Best of TCS Live Presentations: Youth Hockey
Best of TCS Live Presentations: Youth Hockey

Best of TCS Live Presentations: Youth Hockey

From grassroots to the pros, TCS Live offers something valuable for hockey coaches of all levels and age groups.

Youth hockey is the focus of this Best of TCS Live, as we look back at some of our top presentations from last year’s conference on important topics like running an effective minor hockey practice and strategies for developing the skills of young players.

Learn from the experts leading the future of the game and start adding to your planning for next minor hockey season!

Best of TCS Live series:

Ken Martel – How to Define and Capitalize on the Constraints Led Approach

Those who attended TCS Live 2023 were introduced to the “Constraints Led-Approach” by Ken Martel, Senior Director of Player and Coach Development with USA Hockey. Although the concept can seem overwhelming, it’s actually quite simple.

The central idea of the Constraints-Led Approach is that skill development and learning are influenced by the interaction between three types of constraints: individual, environmental and task constraints. These constraints, according to Martel, shape the learning process and guide the development of skills and decision-making in athletes. 

In his presentation, Martel stresses that every drill you run in practice will incentivize certain behaviours and discourage others. The key for coaches is to step back and observe what is really happening in a drill so that they can adjust and stress certain areas of the game to maximize player development.

Watch the full presentation

Karl Schwarzenbrunner – The Secret to Unlocking Skill Acquisition

Prior to TCS Live 2023, you’d have been forgiven for not having heard of Karl Schwarzenbrunner. His presentation in Ann Arbor was a game-changer and a lot of North American hockey circles have been applying his teachings ever since.

Schwarzenbrunner has been involved with German hockey since 2016 and is the current Director of Coach Education and Sports Science for the German Ice Hockey Federation. He’s been tasked with helping create a successful development program for German players and coaches, and he’s doing this without a traditional hockey background — he’s never played or coached the game.

But that’s what makes his perspective so fresh and intriguing. He doesn’t share the typical philosophy of a hockey lifer and is willing to consider anything that will enhance his agenda. In his brilliant presentation, Schwarzenbrunner begins with a quote from Epictetus to support this: “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Schwarzenbrunner, who was previously the Athletic Trainer for FC Wacker Innsbruck and also a former competitive powerlifter, explains how to implement the most important scientific findings he’s found success with, into your practices.

Watch the full presentation

Dan Arel – No Goalies Allowed: Passing & Possession Small Area Games

There’s a belief amongst many youth hockey coaches that every drill they run in practice must end with a shot on goal. Dan Arel challenged that notion during his 2023 TCS Live presentation.

Arel, the Director of Coach & Player Development for the San Diego Oilers Hockey Club, is a master of small area games and station based practices, as loyal his readers on The Coaches Site know. Using his practice format, players can average 30 minute of puck time in a single practice, compared to the maximum minute the average player has the puck in a game. If the lightbulb above your head just lit up, it’s for good reason: a single small area game station based practice can equal 11 games worth of puck touches for a developing player.

In his presentation, Arel, who holds his Level 4 certification through USA Hockey and was the San Diego Gulls Foundation Coach of the Year in 2020, provides drills you can implement today, while teaching coaches how to keep players engaged, challenged and focused in making their practices more game-like.

Watch the full presentation