"We're looking for the DNA."

An essential component of pre-scouting your opponent, video has been a part of coaching for decades now. But how can it be used most effectively?

We were joined by a pair of NCAA head coaches at our Virtual Hockey Summit to answer that question. Former Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Todd Woodcroft, now the head coach with the University of Vermont, was joined by Quinnipiac University head coach Cassie Turner for an insightful presentation, taking us through the process of pre-scouting an opponent.

What Woodcroft and Turner did was present clips from the 2019 IIHF World Championships, presenting a fictional scenario where they were preparing a team to play both Finland and Switzerland in upcoming games.

“When we do a pre-scout, what we do is we’re trying to find proof of the team that we’re playing against — how will they play? Most good teams are structured, very predictable,” said Woodcroft, adding that he usually looks at about three or four games from his opponent.

“Try to find the essence of their team, try to find out what they’re good at. Figure out ways that we can counter that,” he said. “We’re looking for things to exploit on them. Essentially we’re looking for the DNA… and make a game plan for that.”

Both Woodcroft and Turner agreed that meetings need to be kept short.

“We have to be really disciplined,” said Turner. “Really dialling in on the things that you think are going to make a difference to win that game… It’s so short because that’s really what’s going to help your athletes be successful.”

Check out the preview video above and watch the full 43-minute presentation by signing up for a membership to The Coaches Site.

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Todd Woodcroft

Currently, Todd is the Head Coach for the University of Vermont Men's Hockey team. A frequent guest of The Coaches Site, Todd has over 20+ years experience in the NHL and internationally. Todd began his career with the Minnesota Wild in 2000 and has worked for the Washington Capitals, the LA Kings, the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets. He also spent a year in the KHL as the Assistant General Manager/Director of Player Personnel for Dynamo Minsk.
Todd began his coaching journey as a Video Coach for the Wild and branched off into scouting, ending up as the Scouting Director for the Flames before coming back to his true passion for coaching with the Jets in 2016. He has coached in 7 World Championships and one World Cup representing Canada,Belarus, Switzerland and Sweden. He won a Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Kings and two Gold Medals (Canada, 2004 & Sweden, 2017).

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