A CoachThem Association: Warman Minor Hockey | CoachThem

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A CoachThem Association: Warman Minor Hockey

A CoachThem Association: Warman Minor Hockey

As Warman Minor Hockey’s coach mentorship and player development chief, Cam Kayter is spearheading an initiative to make CoachThem a staple across the entire Saskatchewan-based association. Eager to lead by example, Kayter has been leveraging the power of CoachThem’s platform with his U15 Bantam AA squad this season, creating custom practice plan and season structure booklets that facilitate both instruction and comprehension of the “Warman Minor Hockey Way.” Kayter is adamant that CoachThem’s popularity will only continue to grow within his organization.

Why is CoachThem being used so extensively across Warman Minor Hockey this season?

CAM KAYTER: It’s about creating uniformity for instruction and player development. We’ve made using CoachThem mandatory for coaches in our AA and AAA programs this season, so we’re setting the stage for what we hope will be association-wide adoption in the future. We estimate that about 20 of the 47 teams under Warman Minor Hockey will be using the platform this year alone, which is a great starting point. First, there’s a time-saving element to CoachThem. That's always attractive. I knew I needed to incorporate some type of application to help our coaches shape their practice plans quickly and efficiently. It’s unrealistic to ask our volunteers to spend as much time as I do in front of a computer screen. Second, CoachThem is playing an integral part in terms of fostering mentorship between our coaches and creating a real fraternity. Before CoachThem, we didn’t have the kind of communication we do now. We’re constantly sharing drills and drill progressions across the network. All that inventory starts to build up where you have an internal database just for Warman Minor Hockey that can be shared and stored forever. It’s the “Warman Minor Hockey Way,” which is a skills-focused approach to teaching our young players.

Expand upon the “Warman Minor Hockey Way” and CoachThem’s role in it.

CK: The cornerstones of the philosophy are simple. I want every single one of our coaches to pull on the same rope in terms of skill development and organizing effective and efficient practices. We can accomplish that goal through planning and structure. We’re getting away from situations where players are being exposed to different teaching methodologies as they work their way through Warman Minor Hockey. We want to standardize things at each level so there’s a clear path to follow year after year. CoachThem is helping us create that system, and I think I’ve taken it one step further when it comes to our practice plan structure. I’ve taken screen captures in CoachThem of every drill in the Warman Minor Hockey repertoire and created a booklet that enables me to continuously edit and add content. It’s a workbook I’m using exclusively with my U15 AA Bantam this season. It covers individual skills warmups, isolation, edgework, puck control, flow drills, skills stations, multiplayer tactics, small-area games battling, conditioning, and fun games. In theory, we’d have this for every team next year for our different age divisions, and it would be directly linked to CoachThem. We don’t want coaches looking at spaghetti on a wall, picking out a strand of pasta, and then throwing it into the pot. We want everything categorized into boxes or shelves, so in terms of skill development, when practice starts, Warman Minor Hockey is offering 40 or 50 pre-selected drills you can choose from.

We even developed a Warman Minor Hockey Player Development YouTube channel after videotaping some station drills and skills work at the beginning of the season. Then, we created those same drills in CoachThem and added an internal link. The fact that it allowed us to join the applications together was very helpful. We also created an Instagram account dedicated to player development as well, so we're sharing as much content as possible with our players and staff members.

 

It sounds like assembling that booklet was a labor of love. Tell us more about the assembly process.

CK: It was absolutely a labor of love. Coaching is my passion. I worked on that project so much over the summer that it essentially became part of my HP1 Certification with Hockey Canada. It was ready to go at the start of the season, along with a season structure plan booklet, too, that gets into specifics for game situations. When I presented everything to the parents, I had a lot of credibility. We want to run a high-end program. Nothing is left to chance. Everything has a purpose, so CoachThem is a nice resource to help me showcase that aspect of our association. I’m using my season with the U15 group as a test case for the platform’s incredible capabilities because I truly believe in it. I wanted to document everything we’re going to teach this season, so we can rely on it – and make everyone aware of the expectations across the board. I kind of want to leave a legacy within Warman Minor Hockey of how to do these things. An important part of that legacy is continuing to set higher and higher standards every season. A couple of years ago, we were honored when Hockey Canada named us one of just four "model associations" from across the country. We're always striving to improve.

How have your efforts been received by your players and fellow coaches? 

CK: I’m fortunate to have a very strong team. It’s the right wheelhouse for us. Here, U15 is your WHL Bantam Draft year, so these kids are all dialed in because this is where they’re getting looks from scouts. They’re like sponges. I’m not overwhelming them with material, though. We’ll walk through one particular structure topic together per week. I’ve shared all of this information with our other coaches as well, just to show them what can be done with CoachThem’s help. Part of spreading the CoachThem message across the association is sharing drills and speaking with every team about the platform. I give them all an opportunity to sit at my desk and we play around with the different tools. I also do a lot of demo where I basically walk them through CoachThem’s functionality. Everything I’m doing, I’m trying to show that it can be done by any coach. I’m leaving behind a ton of breadcrumbs, so someone doesn’t have to start from scratch like I have.

CoachThem is clearly having an impact on Warman Minor Hockey in a variety of different ways. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the platform?

CK: There’s a poster that hangs in our locker room for the whole year that verbalizes how we’re approaching things as a group, and CoachThem helps us develop it. The kids may not realize it, but it’s true. It’s a key tool to get them to understand and buy into what we’re trying to teach them. CoachThem is kind of the unsung hero behind it because it allows me to do things that I know are going to help my team improve and reach their potential.

With respect to the poster, my season is built around the theme of an iceberg. The top, above water,  is what people see out there on the ice in a game – a highly-skilled Warman Wildcats U15 team. But what they don’t see is the process below it, where we work on skill development and structure with the help of CoachThem. It builds into my theme of taking care of the details and getting positive results from focusing on the process above all else.

 

 

Click here to learn more about Cam's work and Warman Minor Hockey.

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