"Advanced" stats for youth hockey?

twothousandone

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I’m wondering if anyone believes they have a stat that is easily translated to youth hockey that, if emphasized, MUST create a better hockey player. My 14-year old son plays bantam hockey – so checking is permitted. I don’t play.

I’m the guy who had to explain to him, at 10, that looking at five pitches in baseball and getting a walk is not the goal in youth baseball. The goal is to take that one pitch that’s close (because you know the umpire is going to call it a strike) and hammer it. “But, the most important thing is to not make an out,” he would respond. In MLB, yes. In youth baseball, no. Then I explained “you don’t walk off the island,” and we agreed SLG was a valuable stat, because it would penalize swinging at bad pitches, yet the risk-reward encouraged trying for a big hit. (and I didn’t go into plate appearance versus at-bat).

Now, in hockey, I’ve explained to him that Patrick Roy is technically correct when he says: the part I don’t like about the Corsi is that you could shoot from the red line, or you could shoot from a terrible angle, and your Corsi will look good. It would require more than one shot, but he has a point. The problem for Roy, of course, is he didn’t seem to bother to think to himself – “if a guy keeps shooting from the red line, I’ll put him in the press box.”

But, valuing shots isn’t really advanced analytics. It’s always been around, as Steve Valiquette will attest

So, with youth hockey, I’m caught between what the stats say about a good pro, and what youngsters need to develop. (Important note, he will play MLB or NHL on X-box only. This is not about a scholarship or a career.) What “advanced stats” translate into youth hockey? He’s not as skilled as some teammates, but is praised by coaches for his positioning – typically backing up when a defenseman rushes the net, planting himself in front of the net, and gaining rebounds on both ends of the ice. I see one notable trait – he knows his opponents are looking to lay a big hit on someone. Twice this season he’s waited at the side of the net for a guy to come at him, lower his shoulder, and lay it on him, as he passes across the crease for an easy goal. It’s fun to see him work his way to his knees, adjust his helmet, and point to the puck in the back of the net with a big smile. And those passes are across the “royal road.” That’s an easy concept because it’s clear why it creates a very difficult save for a goalie.

What else might matter? Corsi is shots, Fenwick is possession, and there’s no good way to measure it in his league (I could, I guess, but I don’t make all the games and I often am trying to work the clock and figure out how to clear a penalty on the scoreboard.)

If there’s a “stat” in youth hockey that matter for the game, at that level, and can be measured, what is it? Some hockey version of SLG?
 

Dummy Hoy

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He should still be developing his skills- skating and hands. Sounds like he's got a decent head for the game (recognizing when to cover for D, finding spots where the puck goes, creating space), and that will just improve the more he plays. if he wants to have a bigger impact, he should improve his skating, hands, and fitness. All things he can do with practice.

At that level you aren't going to be able to throw together any stat that isn't a bit subjectively relying on the stat taker.

And come to think of it, I'm not sure what you're trying to measure.
 

TSC

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Agreed with Dummy.

In hockey, advanced stats are often a result of coaching/system. For youth development - 99% of his focus should be on skating, handling/shooting the puck, and vision. Possession, shot selection, shot blocking - that can all be taught and implemented in different coaching systems/programs. You need to excel at the primary skills before you can even begin to worry about secondary skills.
 

cshea

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Goals and assists. At that level, as the skills improve, so should the counting stats.

You need a ton of data to compile the shot metrics anyways. Impossible to cover unless you want to put in a shit ton of work tracking games.
 

wiffleballhero

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I agree with the other posters, but I'll only add that at every level except the very highest levels of competitive hockey, goalies disproportionately appear to be (against what one would expect of them watching D1 and NHL hockey, etc.) pretty awful, ergo: shoot. Shoot even when you have bad angles, shoot even when you are really just fishing for a rebound. Just shoot like a modified dump-and-run model. This will help him now and it will help him 30 years from now as a B league monster. It will also help him develop feel for actual good shooting situations and ones where it only is going in with bad goal tending.
 

wiffleballhero

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A little follow-up:
I am not saying that you should have your kid be a puck hog. Pass to someone with a better shot. But it takes a pretty advanced level of hockey to get to the point where the passing becomes so consistently solid that passing up a possible shot is genuinely a good idea vs. just blasting it in and looking for a rebound.
 

leftfieldlegacy

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I will echo what others have said. Improving skating, puck handling, passing and shooting skills will make him a better player and give him more enjoyment from the game. If you want to give him a stat to think about, use a simple plus-minus so he can see how many goals were scored for and against when he is on the ice. The one thing that concerns me in your OP was the idea of your son setting up at the side of the net and using himself as a target for an on rushing checker so that your son can slide the puck across the crease for an easy goal. This is a recipe for injury, especially concussion. If he is getting hit hard enough to get knocked down and he needs to "adjust his helmet" that is a pretty good indication that he took a direct or indirect hit to the head. Improved skating and puck handling skill will allow him to make that pass AND avoid the hit.
 

twothousandone

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This is a recipe for injury, especially concussion.
thank you. The coaches ( and me )have tried to explain this to him, but the really convincing argument is if the goalie makes the save, you need to be available to put the rebound in. Had you seen the plays, you wouldn't have been worried, because it was a bit of acting to rub it in on a team that acted as though the big hit was the goal. His body language was not unlike a slot receiver indicating a first down after taking a big hit. Not a great way to make friends, but he's got a decent sense of how his strengths play out.
I'm not sure what you're trying to measure.
I'm not looking to measure anything. I'm trying to give him a stat he can use to understand the important thing - and permit us to talk about statistics in life. Perhaps something like SLG. From this discussion it might be shots and / or cross ice passes per offensive zone possessions, and shots prevented and clean exits per defensive zone time. "When you are on the ice, make it count."
 
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kenneycb

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I'd be leery on cross ice passes one, especially at that level, as it can lead to dangerous behavior. Clean zone entries could be a good one since that's an indication of possession going into the zone and often leads to a greater chance of developing something or at least holding up play until reinforcements arrive.

Not sure how to measure it but I always hated how people haphazardly dump the puck into the zone without taking into account where pressure is coming from. A hard dump around the net would be useless if you don't have any help coming from the backside and if the D is sagging back.

Those are just a couple based on things that annoy me now that I'm a beer league all-star.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I'm not looking to measure anything. I'm trying to give him a stat he can use to understand the important thing - and permit us to talk about statistics in life. Perhaps something like SLG. From this discussion it might be shots and / or cross ice passes per offensive zone possessions, and shots prevented and clean exits per defensive zone time. "When you are the ice, make it count."
Zone entries is good, but as Kenny notes, situation specific.

I'd have him concentrate on giveaways/takeaways. +/- is good too, also because you can explain how a stat can be flawed, and that when using stats we need to consider exactly what it measures.

Also, as people have noted, taking stats at this level is tough...and zone time stuff is challenging to track, and something like clean exits from zone (which is a great thing to focus on) have so many moving parts (was the C helping with the pass, did the D make a clean pass, the the opposite D pinch hard forcing an 'unclean' dump, etc), that it doesn't make for a good individual stat.
 

Fred not Lynn

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So, a bit different, but related;

In football, raw running speed is a big deal, so big that the most talked about track and field event in America is the 40 at the NFL combine...

In baseball, at every single showcase they go to great pains to collect a 60 time from every player, including the 250 lb LHP who throws 90...

But in hockey, where the specialized skill of skating matters, a LOT, there is no real universally tested and recognized metric for skating speed. Seems to me that ought to be an incredibly easy thing to measure, and could have corresponding tests combining speed and agility, etc...

Is there a reason this isn't treated as a big deal in hockey like it is in football and baseball - or have they just not gotten around to establishing it yet?
 

RIFan

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The best advice I can give you as a former coach and parent of a high school player is to tell him to listen to the coaches, work hard in practice and have fun. The odds are very high that whatever you tell him will be in conflict with what the coaches are trying to teach.
 

JimM

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Or talk to the coaches and see what they want him to work on and how you can reinforce that and what you can look for to show him where they see his need to improve. As long as the coaches are open to it this would help keep him working on what will get him more ice time and keep everyone delivering him the same message.
 

Dummy Hoy

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I would argue pure speed is the most valuable running skill in baseball (your herb washingtons obviously aside) and possibly football too, although the emphasis on the 3 cone drill shows evaluators are highly focused on agility too.

I wonder if the alien nature of skating (as opposed to the universal running) means that our general understanding of the scale of speed is off and unfamiliar.
 

wiffleballhero

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I think part of the issue with speed in hockey is that it is more intimately tied to the ability to stop and/or change direction very quickly as much as it is about straight line speed. There is a reason the Apollo Onos of the world never even try the Herb Washington routine -- they would bang into the wall.

I have always assumed that NHL players never really can get up to full speed in 200 feet anyway.
 

kenneycb

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To that point, acceleration is arguably more important than straight speed. The ability to go from a glide, for lack of a better term, to top-ish end speed in a few strides makes you extremely dangerous.
 

veritas

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Agreed on "quickness" (acceleration, changing direction) being more important than top end speed. For example, Torey Krug is extremely quick and not very fast. Milan Lucic is extremely not quick but is fast. Dan Paille was very quick and very fast, but lacked opposable thumbs.