Video Coach, What’s That?

by Matt Prefontaine on January 8, 2012

Whenever I talk to people about my job for the first time the general reaction is normally something along the lines of “That’s cool”, “Sounds Interesting” or “That’s really exciting” followed up with, “So what do you do?”

With this in mind I figured that it make sense to make a post as an introduction into what I do and what a Video Coach is.  It just so happens that I did an interview with WTVO’s Scott Leber on the exact topic earlier in the season and he was kind enough to give me a copy for you all to see.  So make sure you watch the video ( And  just so you know the footage was not staged we do actually score a goal when I give the fist pump) and read my synopsis below!

Capturing the Video Live

An assumption that many people have when I talk about being a Video Coach is that I record the game on a camera for the team.  I do record the game but the American Hockey League (AHL) has a rule that every arena must provide a video feed for each team to use from a coaching standpoint, so I don’t have to worry about actually filming the game.

What I do is utilize this video feed during our games.  I bring the video feed into my computer, with the use of a nifty little thing called a Canopus and capture it with a specially designed program called SportCode.

SportsCode allows me to “Code” specific events during the game so that the rest of the coaching staff can quickly and efficiently look back at parts of the game during intermissions and after completion. On average in a single game I code approximately 600 different events, including goals, chances, fights, goalie touches, forechecks, and faceoffs just to name a few so there is a huge amount of information available.

Here's what SportsCode looks like after I have coded an entire game.

As you can see the video that I capture and code is organized by name and colour so that it can be accessed quickly.  It allows the coaches to review both individual performance and the execution of  team systems so that we can correct things that did not go well or commend aspects of the game that were structurally sound.  The coaches can then pick out things that they would like to show players on a one to one basis or to show in team meetings.

Pre-scout

Another major aspect of my job is organizing and coding pre-scout video.

A pre-scout is exactly what the name implies; it’s a scouting report that is generated on an upcoming opponent.  The AHL has made available a huge database of all the games that are played that can be accessed through the Internet.  That allows me to download previous games of an upcoming opponent and code them so that our assistant coaches and I can see what systems the team plays and how their personal is utilized.  This information is presented to the players in reports that get posted up in the locker room and during video meetings on the day of each game.

The intention of the pre-scout is to inform our players about the opposition so that they know what their “likely” game plan will be.  This is not to say that things are going to be exactly the same come game time but if it does stay the same our players will know what to expect and will be able to react on instinct to what is happening rather then having to think before they act, which is a huge advantage.

Stats Stats Stats…

Everybody in the sporting world loves stats, to look at them, to analyze them and to try and get meaning out of them.  Our coaches are no different they like to look at stats, both individual and team and I am the keeper of those stats.  Most of the stats that I keep are supplemental to the AHL stats (Goals, Points, PIMS etc) and include things like scoring chances, faceoffs and penalty +/- to name a few.

SportsCode allows me a neat way of extracting stats from the video that I code in turn saving me a lot of time when putting them together while having the video evidence at the touch of our fingertips.

It is important to remember that you can only look so much into stats and their meaning.  The coaches namely use these to evaluate trends over specific periods of time or against various opponents so they can get a better idea of what is happening in the game.  Being a number guy myself its interesting to see these kinds of things on how they can reflect the game accurately on some occasions and mislead on others.

Technological Guru

If you watched the video at the top of the post all the way to the end you will know that technology is a hobby of mine, which as my fiancée told me after she saw the video classifies me as “A Nerd”.

That may be true but it has certainty helped me in my position.  Going into the job I knew that this was going to be advantage because most of the tools that I uses day to day require some form of technological knowledge what I didn’t realize was that I am the go to guy in regards to any technological problem the team has.  If somebody on staff or a player has an issue with technology I’m the first guy they come to to fix it.

The range is actually pretty large when I think about it, I have fixed a label maker, got video working on a bus, a stereo working in the locker room and figured out problems with Blackberry’s as just a couple examples.  It’s pretty easy to see just how big of an advantage being comfortable working with various forms of technology really is.  I also have a great asset in Rich Kulefsky the Video Coaching Manager at the United Center and the all the guys at SportsCode that can help me out if I am really stuck on a problem.

So Now You Know…Maybe?

I hope that I have given you a little bit of a glimpse into what I do day to day and what the position of Video Coach brings to the Rockford IceHogs. If you want to know a more make sure you stay tuned, I am planning on giving you a little closer look at SportsCode with some videos and the like.  I also am going to have a little feature about life on the road in the AHL, so keep a keen eye out for those riveting posts.

If you have any questions or comments for me make sure you leave me a COMMENT below, fire a tweet @mattprefy or an email to matt@themanadvatageblog.com.

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I’m Back!

by prefy on December 16, 2011

As you may have noticed themanadvantageblog.com has been pretty quiet as of late but I think it’s time to get back to regularly updating the site.

I have had a lot happen in my life in the last six months that should provide me with more then enough content to keep anyone who wishes to read on the edge of their seats…well maybe not edge of your seat but hopefully you will find interesting!

I would likely get in trouble if I didn’t mention this one first so I will do just that.  I asked my long time girlfriend to marry me and she said yes!  The date is set and come July 28th, 2012 I will be a married man.  Needless to say things have been pretty busy trying to get everything organized for the big day , the wedding is only 224 days away.  I do have to admit I am getting off pretty easy though, my Fiancee is doing most of the legwork as I am not in Winnipeg.

Why am I not in Winnipeg?  As of May 31st my employer has been the Chicago Blackhawks! That date marked my entry into the world of hockey operations becoming the Video Coach for the Blackhawks AHL affiliate the Rockford IceHogs.  This would be the second reason why there as been very little activity here.

The transition to the new job has been quite the experience and I think it would be interesting to share that experience with anyone who stumbles across my small place on the internet.

With this in mind the format of the blog is going to change to a personal blog following my journey through hockey, as opposed to the journalistic (albeit loosely) focus the blog had previously.  Don’t get me wrong a lot of the content will still be focused around hockey but it will have more to do with how the sport personally relates to me.

I hope you enjoy the new direction and if you do leave me a comment!

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The Rockford IceHogs saw their loosing streak reach six games on Friday night as they were downed 4-2  to the Milwaukee Admirals. Listen above to Mike Peck and I talk a little bit about the IceHogs performance tonight and breakdown some stats and highlights Boxscore Prefy’s Three Stars Blake Geoffrion (2G-2A) Mark Dekanich (26-28) Brian [...]

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