Jr. Kings raise the tech bar with new coaches app
Looking for some fresh practice plans or drills? Want to browse video of effective power plays or penalty kills? Maybe access articles relating to nutrition or small-area games?
If you’re a coach within the Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization, there’s an app for that.
Developed by Nick Vachon, the Jr. Kings’ general manager of hockey operations, the newly-unveiled smartphone application is available to Jr. Kings coaches only and serves as an all-in-one platform when it comes to breaking down specific game or practice video, accessing documents and information and sharing ideas and concepts with other coaches within the club.
“The goal here is to create some meaningful technology for our coaches and create more easily-accessible resources for them,” said Vachon (pictured). “I wanted to build a nice, effective app they could all benefit from, whether they coach Mites or Midgets.”
With a professional background in video editing and production, Vachon, who also serves as head coach of the Jr. Kings’ 2005 AAA team, has been gathering and archiving NHL clips, articles and other information over the years and using them more and more from a developmental standpoint as his players have matured.
He then began sharing his library with other coaches within the club. A number of them have been leaning on Vachon more frequently in recent years looking for additional resources and ideas.
“For a lot of our coaches, it’s not easy for them to find the (video) content they need, then create the clip, then share it with their team,” said Vachon. “The technology side of it is very difficult and time consuming, and some guys just don’t have the time.
“It took a little bit of time to build out (the app), and creating the content and organizing it takes some time, but now it’s at the final stage where we’re ready to push it out full-scale so all of our guys have access to it when and as much as they want.”
As part of the video component, the app boasts a sleek and robust search engine where coaches can easily access clips relating to their particular search; if a coach is looking for sample penalty-kill situations, they can type “penalty kill” or “PK” and a menu of shorthanded clips will display right at their fingertips.
“So they don’t have to search thousands of clips,” said Vachon. “They can condense their search quickly and access the ones that apply to a specific tactic or situation that would resonate with their kids.
“It’s been time-intensive building that part of it – and kind of a work in progress on my end as far as creating the content – but now it’s a matter of getting more clips into the system and tagging them so they’re easily searchable, and then of course to keep adding to the library.”
Early reviews of the app, which also includes PowerPoint presentations and other Jr. Kings-specific information, have been nothing but positive, according to Vachon.
“The feedback has been great,” he said. “We’re slowing getting it off the ground, but the video library we’ve been using has been a valuable resource; the coaches see it and are like, ‘Wow, this is great.’ They’re really excited about it.”
Jr. Kings 16U AAA head coach Jack Bowkus, for one, is already impressed with the capabilities of the app.
“What Nick has been able to do for our club from a video and technology standpoint has been extremely beneficial to say the least,” said Bowkus. “And to be able to access all of these clips and other information in the palm of our hands from anywhere is groundbreaking, in my opinion.”
And Vachon believes the Jr. Kings are just scratching the surface on what the app can represent as it relates to keeping their coaches informed and connected and, ultimately, enhancing the player development component of the entire program.
“The opportunities are endless,” he said. “We’re thinking of cutting-edge ways to improve our coaching and improve the club, and we’re going above and beyond.
“A lot of clubs and coaches use video and use it effectively, but from a club standpoint this will only help us stay ahead of the curve and improve not only our internal coaching communication, but the overall development of our kids.”
— Brian McDonough