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Deflections: Bring back play - in practice


The first time I saw Participaction’s road hockey video, I thought it was brilliant. Then came the punchline - at which I laughed, punched the air, and exclaimed, “Exactly!”

Do you remember it? Four kids are playing road hockey in a parking lot. A black screen slides in from the right, the kids are “virtually” pushed to the net and their game stops while the on-screen text reads, “Screen time is taking away play time.” The punch line at the end reads, “Participaction: Don’t visit our web site.”

We ought to have something like it for our minor hockey practices. Here’s my film treatment for a 30-second spot.

Seconds 0-10: Fifteen kids are doing drills in a hockey practice. A few are standing around awaiting their turns. Others are hopelessly lost in a drill. A couple seem to do them well. Meanwhile three coaches carry on a steady stream of instructions. They point here and there, zip over to some pylons to put them back in place, demonstrate skills...You know the routine. It goes on every day. The coaches are positive in their delivery. No one is screaming or berating. They just don’t shut up.

Seconds 10-15: From the top of the screen (help with CGI graphics needed, please) drops down a muzzle for each coach. Then the players are magically (more CGI - or Pixar) removed from the drills and plopped into a cross-ice game of 3-on-3.

Seconds 15-25: With the coaches muzzled, the kids play the 3-on-3 game. The ones who were standing before are now chasing a puck. “Lost” kids go the net for a shot. The hotshots try to get past everyone with the puck, but there’s no room and they lose it. A goal is scored and they all imitate the NHL guys with sticks raised, and fist bumps.

Seconds 25-30: A graphic slides up from the bottom of the screen. It reads, “Shut up and let them play.”

(With this published blog, I announce I now own the copyright to the idea. Stay tuned for the full movie. Hey, if they can make a film about SNL’s Coneheads, then this little spot should be a slam

There’s a place in practice to teach, to instruct, to correct. But it isn’t all the time nor every practice nor even for every age level. Probably the gravest error we commit in coaching is over-coaching. We need to put more play into our practices and just, well, shut up.

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