A lot, or at least a few, sports count assists among their statistics. That is, the pass that leads to a score. In volleyball, at least in America, a set that leads to a spike point is an assist. In basketball, a pass that leads to a basket is an assist. But in hockey, not only the pass that leads to a goal counts as an assist, but also the pass that leads to the pass that leads to a goal counts as an assist. In some circles (i.e. Bill Simmons), that kind of assist is referred to a ‘hockey assist’.
In volleyball there are a lot of structural / organisational / communication errors where the fault seems to be obvious.
- A tip falls in front of a defender. The fault is obviously that the defender to not commit to defending the ball. The obvious solution is to berate them for lack of effort and possibly some drill to encourage the player to change their habit.
- A middle blocker has a chance to set a high ball but commits a ball handling error. The obvious solution is to berate them for their lack of technical skill and possibly some drill to improve that technical ability.
You get the idea. The wrong player receives the ball. The wrong player sets the ball. A player touches the net. All simple errors with obvious solutions.
But what if things aren’t so simple. What if there is such a thing as a ‘hockey error’. I have written before that what looks like a lack of effort is most often actually a lack of readiness. In that example, the lack of effort is the error and the lack of readiness is the hockey error. In the middle blocker setting example, the hockey error is probably not turning fast enough after landing from the block. Many errors that are attributed to lack of calling, have as their hockey error a player moving towards the ball and then stopping. Being in the wrong position is the hockey error in many different situations.
As a coach, focussing on the error can have some improvement on performance. But focussing on the hockey error can have a profound effect on understanding of the game.
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