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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 - 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

Deflections - The Old School Coach

The coach is “Old School.” I hear that a lot, from coaches, parents, at clinics… It’s a catchphrase to mean, “The coach uses timeworn drills and a my-way-or-the-highway mentality, and isn’t too interested in trying something new.” It’s the minor hockey equivalent of the one room schoolhouse.

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Deflections - Demo – Yes; Play – NO

Should coaches participate in drills with kids? No. Once upon a time, in my early days as a house league coach, I used to practice my formidable stickhandling skills by keeping the puck away from my players.

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Deflections - The Cold-up

Everyone knows what a warm-up is. It’s that wee time frame before engaging in an athletic endeavour when the body and the mind need to be tuned up for action. Read More

Deflections - Tough’s Good; Fair’s Better

The time-worn rule for new classroom teachers, one never really expressed in training programs, is that you’re better off having a firm hand at the beginning than trying to tighten up later. It’s a similar approach for coaches, new or otherwise. Read More

Deflections - The importance of the NHL influence

A former NHL player, a team captain no less, once coached his son in competitive hockey. It wasn’t unusual for the coach to berate officials or stand in the bench doorway and wave them over.  Read More

Deflections - Every cut is the deepest

If anyone thinks releasing young players during a tryout is tough, they ought to spend a bit of time in junior. There, we coaches dash their hopes upon the rocks of the future, or so they would have us believe.

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Deflections - About Those Skills Instructors

Are we going about skill development the right way by hiring specialists to teach skills to our kids? As I wrote last week, associations are hiring groups to run extra skills instructions sessions. It ain’t cheap! When people complain about the high cost of the game, this has to be a factor. 

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