You’ve probably heard the term “video coach” said multiple times while watching hockey. Even in Nashville, the video coach for the Predators, Lawrence Feloney, is a well-known name throughout the hockey world. Feloney has played a integral part for the Nashville Predators as well as for Team USA in the most recent World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. But have you ever wondered what exactly a video coach does? You know he’s a vital part of a team, especially for the coaching staff, but to what extent? We spoke with Lawrence Feloney about the role and what work it requires.
“In it’s simplest terms, it’s to make sure players, coaches and management have everything they need that’s video related,” said Feloney about the basic description of the video coach. “There’s a lot of breaking down of games and a scouting component by looking at other teams and systems and how they play.”
It’s obvious that being analytical in hockey is important to become a video coach. The position doesn’t just require recording games or practices, but also breaking down plays over and over and relaying that information to the coaching staff and players in meetings.
“I sit in the locker room during the game and am on the headset with the assistant coaches upstairs so I’m watching the game from the perspective of a coach, breaking it down live as it’s happening,” said Feloney on what his role is during the game. “I have the ability to rewind during the game and communicate to the coaching staff if there’s something they want me to look at. If there’s something I think I can add, I’ll relay that to the bench. We work together to make any adjustments that we need.”
Having the ability to be in total control of video is something that has come a long way in regards to technology. The ability to analyze the game is at its highest point than ever before.
“Our video systems are to the point now where everything is networked and coaches can come in between periods and all of us can work at the same time,” explained Feloney on the video technology. “For instance, if you have one coach that does penalty kill, he can look at our penalty kill while the other coach is looking at the power play and the head coach is looking at scoring chances or systems play so that we can adjust accordingly before talking to the team between periods.”
As you can see, Feloney’s role is a vital one as the information he provides allows the coaches and players to make adjustments during the game. Players are constantly watching their own video so that they can continue to better themselves against the competition.
“The majority of players are watching their shifts every night or the following morning,” said Feloney. “The players are demanding more video and a lot of times they’ve seen it before the meetings, which is great. They’re taking ownership of their game. ”
While all players watch video, some players stand out in Feloney’s eyes.
“Some guys are real students of the game, like Paul Gaustad,” explained Feloney. “He really studies the game, especially from a defensive perspective. Whether it’s penalty kill or faceoff preparation, for every game, he knows the other team’s centerman and what they like to do. He gets video on that every game. That’s something he wants to see every night.”
While Feloney credits Gaustad with being one of the best at preparation because of video, many in the hockey community consider Feloney one of the best video coaches in the league.
“I know Nashville has, in my opinion, the best that I’ve ever met in Lawrence Feloney,” said Dan Muse, Assistant Hockey Coach at Yale University and video coach for Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship. “I think he’s at the very top of that profession. I’ve been extremely impressed with him, so Nashville is very lucky to have a guy like that in the organization.”
It’s something Feloney prides himself on to help his team.
“I’m humbled by that,” said Feloney on being called the best. “Work ethic first and foremost is important. Video’s not really an efficient process. We try to make it as efficient as we can through the use of technology, but I just show up to the rink every day and work hard. I try to understand and embrace new technology. I just have an attitude of whatever it takes to get the coaches whatever they need, no matter how long it takes.”
In regards to coaching, Feloney will be working with a new head coach in Peter Laviolette. While they haven’t worked out exact details on what will be expected, they have communicated on the upcoming season.
“I have just made sure he has everything he needs to get familiar with the team and our players,” said Feloney on speaking with Laviolette. “I’m certainly willing to do whatever he wants and it was a good opportunity to work with him at the World Championships. I feel like I got a head start in that regard.”
Working with Laviolette during the World Championship and having that experience is something that Feloney will always cherish as he moves forward in his career.
“It was an honor and an opportunity to work with some terrific people,” Feloney continued about the World Championship experience. “I got to meet some outstanding people from players and coaches to support staff. It was a thrill and it was refreshing. It was a good challenge and it’s such a different game over there.”
In Belarus, Feloney was able to experience his role on a larger sheet of ice and international hockey is certainly a different style compared to what is played in North America.
“I still believe our game in the NHL is still the best game in the world,” said Feloney in comparing both styles. “I like the smaller rink, but you challenge yourself from a systems perspective to adjust accordingly to the style of play because it is very different from what we have over here.”
Now you know the role of the video coach and how important the role is for the entire organization. As technology continues to advance, it will be interesting to see how the video coach changes with it and how the Nashville Predators use Lawrence Feloney to take them to the next level.
*All images used courtesy of the Nashville Predators*