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Richard Bercuson: Deflections


Richard is an award-winning writer and hockey coach/mentor. The former Director of Coaching for Hockey Eastern Ontario, he's a Hockey Canada Master Facilitator/Mentor and coaching evaluator. He's worked with teams from minor to junior to university to Europe and also Canada's Program of Excellence. He's been a newspaper and magazine columnist and has authored two books, one of which is the recently released coaching manual Inside Coaching Hockey. It's available from his web site He spends inordinate amounts of time running to and from rinks and to finish lines as a runner of various ridiculous distances. He likes cheesecake, dry red wine, and long walks on a hot beach. One of those is not readily available where he lives.


Deflections - Observing By Watching

When you’re coaching a team in a game, you get caught up in the moments. The shift changes, the missed plays, the whines on the bench, the reactions and overreactions, the uncalled calls…

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Deflections - The Post-Turkey Practice

There are some practice situations that leave coaches scratching their heads. One is the first practice following a long Christmas break. You can bet the kids have done practically nothing from a hockey or conditioning standpoint. 

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Deflections - I wonder…

I wonder…
… why isn’t more time spent training coaches on discipline techniques? Granted, as parents, we pretty much learn as we go.

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Deflections - Where are we going?

We’re approaching the end of 2016, but the hockey season is only midway. In fact, in some competitive locales, the regular season ends in January. Does anyone else have difficulty understanding that?

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Deflections - Other Practice Structures

A practice plan is not the same as practice structure. As a rule, we do a decent job of showing coaches what constitutes a basic practice plan, that there are elements practices must have. We see outlines in coaching clinics, manuals, and online. There shouldn’t be a minor coach in Canada who doesn’t know it.

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Deflections - Adapting Practice Structure

We know practice planning is important. So, too, is practice structure, which is something quite different. Yes, every coach needs to learn to plan what goes into a practice.

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Deflections - How to Rotate Stations

While teaching in hockey schools, I earned a marvelous education in how to/not to conduct teaching sessions using stations. Granted, off-season hockey schools require a different approach than in-season teams. 

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Deflections - Using Coaches in Stations

The use of stations is widely accepted as one of the best ways to cover a lot of ground in a sport teaching environment. Stations are used in varying ways at every age level and calibre. Read More

Deflections - Half, Shared, or Full Ice

The coach looks at the slide of rink diagrams depicting options to divide the rink for practice. Most make sense. One, where the rink is cut diagonally, raises questions. Under what circumstances would a coach run a practice in a triangular piece of rink? I couldn’t think of one. Read More

Deflections - Pick up the Practice Pace

A common refrain among parents and even most coaches used to be that a practice was worthwhile if the kids left the ice sweating. In fact, in all that equipment and even with a modicum of effort, a kid can’t help but sweat. Read More

Deflections - The Push-up Coach

“We did skating drills where kids collapsed on the ice, but no one said a word. We were all better afterwards." That was the comment of a former player of a Montreal area Pee Wee AAA coach who was recently suspended until May for making his players do at least 100 pushups after a loss.

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Deflections - Intellectually Brave Coaches

Is there such a thing as an intellectually brave minor hockey coach? If there is, how would we know we’ve found one? Most coaches of elite players I’ve known didn’t stand pat with their rosters. Given how much kids change from year to year in every imaginable way, it only made sense that to improve a team sometimes meant making changes.

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Deflections - About “The Ostrich Effect”

There are some web sites for hockey and coaching which are essential reading, aside from, naturally. One is, created by Calgary coach Dean Holden. Read More

Deflections - The Importance of Group Control

We spend inordinate amounts of time teaching skills and tactics as well as showing coaches how to do it. Of course, it’s all needed. But we consistently miss an essential ingredient in teaching, which is how to control the team. Read More

Deflections - I don't understand

Sometimes I just don’t know what to say. This will come as a shock to friends in the hockey community who’d swear I’m never at a loss for words. Read More



Cumberland Grads netminder making the most of CCHL opportunity

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Krebs and Byram making strong case for top-round consideration in 2016 WHL Draft

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