Since I started coaching in 2004, I have continued to learn and grow as a coach. I have been professionally coaching for more than ten years. I believe that a good coach should have a set of principles that he stands by and believes in his heart. I’ve been developing my principles over the years and thought I would share them.
Winning is not everything in sports. It is a part of the sport, but it should never come before the well-being of the athletes. Having fun is an important part of sports. People want to have fun, so they play sports. I strive to foster an environment where athletes can enjoy themselves. Developing an athlete physically, psychologically, and socially is an important part of sports. Athletes learn life lessons, playing sports as well in a class. It is my goal to push my athletes to become stronger people physically, have a strong and sound mind, to understand social situations, and how to work together.
These are all things that an athlete uses both on and off the field. An important part of coaching is helping an athlete to strengthen those qualities in their lives. That is the reason; I would choose to help an athlete develop in these areas over having fun and winning. If an athlete is strong in all these areas, having fun and winning will follow.
The art of coaching is to know what technical move, tactical behaviour or complex competition a player is ready for at a certain stage of physical and mental development.
The best coaches do not work at the beginner level of sports because coaching young athletes rarely give them any economic gain. Coaches with terrific knowledge and experience are interested in older teams that can afford to give them higher salaries. Not getting the best coaches creates a problem for younger athletes.
The failure to interest well-qualified coaches means that poor quality and tedious coaching is taught to young athletes in schools and clubs. Due to this fact, young athletes are coached in the same way that grownups are coached, without taking into consideration the natural order or development of the young athlete through time. The alternative schemes that most coaches adapt do not give a solution to the problem of affirming young athlete’s quality coaching. Moreover, coaching youth at the beginning stages of sports is too important for the future development of the athletes to allow coaches to assemble quirky methods of coaching.
Unfortunately, it is the force of habit that constitutes the greatest obstacle to progress in youth hockey. Traditional methods are often followed blindly without giving sufficient thought of the consequences, both in training as well as in the structuring of the youth competitions.
To move past these obstacles and achieve better results in the future, coaches, administrations, and federations must first review the structure and organization of their youth hockey programs. The complicated adult game has to be simplified until a logical progression of competitions with gradually increasing demands is designed that adapts perfectly to the actual mental and physical abilities and capacities of the child. A child should be presented with only those exercises, games, and challenges that suit their current abilities, interests, and expectations. The training program, as well as the competitions for children, should be like their shoes. They should fit perfectly to feel comfortable.
If we are to improve the development of young players, it is crucial that we recognize the mistakes made in the past. Awareness of these errors is the first step towards more effective training and learning methods.
Once hockey coaches have been convinced of the need to modify the traditional way of teaching their players, they soon discover that the process of understanding and learning hockey will shift increasingly to self-teaching.
The key to develop successful youth Hockey players is in understanding and meeting the needs of young players, rather than subjecting them to boring exercises or a game designed for adults. These are some basic, yet important, needs children have that coaches should always keep in mind.
Nothing can be understood completely as long as it has not been experienced. Coaches should allow the children to experiment with tasks. Children need to discover on their own everything that surrounds them. The discovery also applies to the world of sports and in particular to Hockey. Kids should be stimulated with games and activities that are within their physical and mental capacities. This method of coaching allows them to develop their abilities and capacities step by step through their own discovery.
Children get highly motivated when tribute is paid for their efforts in mastering a skill or problem. Through praise, they are encouraged to try even harder. For children younger than 12 years old, the teacher, coach, or parent is like a mirror in which they see their capacity or incapacity. That is why educators and parents have to learn to be positive, to praise the children frequently and keep critical comments to a minimum.
Children prefer to do things on their own without depending too much on the adults. They like to reach independence as quickly as possible. The coaching methods and behaviour of the educator should consider this need, making sure that the children are frequently allowed to find solutions on their own to problems the coach presents. The educator should interfere only when the problems can’t be solved by the pupils.
Youngsters can also perform the tasks of putting down or collecting cones, modifying the rules of a practice game, or choosing players for demonstrations or certain activities. They need to demonstrate responsibility can also be stimulated in each training session by allowing them 10 minutes in which to freely choose what to practice, how to do it, and where and with whom to execute a determined skill or game.
Coaches who are hesitant to give up some of the liability to the young athletes must realize that learning also takes place out of the coach’s presence. In any team sport, young athletes, organize their play in logical form even if a grownup is not available to guide them. First, the young athletes make sure that the teams are even. Young athletes want competitiveness. They want the game to be fair and challenging, thus making the young athletes play to their full ability.
Young athletes naturally look for communication with others. The older the athletes are, the more they need the companionship of the same age. Young athletes love to be affiliated and to identify with a group or team that strive to achieve common goals.
Young athletes crave variety, which yields less boredom and fatigue. A great variety of activities are essential to keeping their attention level. Unless you often vary the method of presentation and the contents, most young athlete’s attention drift. You should also vary the intensity of the exercises and games.
Young athletes seem to live in their own world. They have distinctive problems, they learn differently, and they don’t think logically as most grownups do. Their ideas, thoughts, or reasoning often are lacking rationality. Their emotional certainty depends on a high degree of their speed of biological growth. In general, young athletes don’t know how to use their energy and tire easily. They act exactly the way they feel. For all these reasons, grownups who live and work with young athletes should know how to stimulate and direct them in their search for personality and identity.
My coaching style depends on taking the group together, I learned so much in last 13-14 years of my coaching life where I coach beginner to Elite Athletes, for me healthy environment is important I value letting athletes have input in some of the aspects surrounding the team and how it functions. Not all aspects of the team are up to team discussion, but some are. One of those aspects is playing time. I think it is important to hear what the team wants to focus on, and how they want to achieve that, letting the team have input is important to me.
I value ethics in all aspects of the sports. I will not tolerate unethical actions from my athletes and coaching ethically is important to me as well. I need to set an example for my athletes, and if I go about coaching by breaking the rules, what kind of example would I be setting? In the same light of setting examples, I would stress a family first model. I would never want my athletes to put the team before their own families, and I would do the same. The family is important to me and having a team that understands that family is an important aspect of all their lives is important.
My practices will be long enough to get what I want to be done, but will not go past what is needed. I think that shorter and more efficient practices are better for the athletes and their well-being. If you practice too much, the athletes will get burned out faster. The same applies when it comes to games. I would not schedule any games that would be detrimental to the athletes physically or mentally. I want to have just enough games at the right level of competition, so they can play in an environment that will push them, but not damage them physically or mentally.
I want to allow as many people to participate on my team as possible. There are limitations regarding space allowed on a roster, but I want to find a place for as many people to play as possible. If I am forced to make cuts from a governing body, or if the number of players on my roster exceeds the number I am allowed, I would do all I can to help find the players that cannot take a place to play.
I strongly believe that coaches are mentors for the athletes. I believe that it is something that comes with being a coach, and it is my responsibility to help them on and off the ice as much as they want me to. I will never force my involvement unless it is surrounding something that puts my athlete or people around them in danger. I am not their parent, but as someone, they look up to, it is my job to support them in whatever way they need. In doing this, I can help them get stronger mentally and socially.
Principle of Developing Athletes
The most important factor in developing a player is belief, your player must believe they are capable of being great. Not only must the players believe in themselves, but you must also believe in them. Nothing is more powerful than a respected coach that a player looks up to for advice believing in them. Players (people in general) are often capable of far more than they believe. For this reason, a coach must help a player achieve more than the player believes possible. If a player doesn’t truly believe what they are trying to do is possible their practice will not be as effective or efficient, in the back of their mind they will think “what’s the point.”
I think balance is the foundation of all fundamental hockey skills, a coach that can help new players become balanced will set the foundation for faster development in controlling/running with the ball, passing verity, basic of attacking and defending, power, speed, agility etc
Challenge yourself, challenge others, the simplest key to designing drills/exercises and helping players improve is to ask them, does this challenge you? Achieving a skill/movement should be outside of the players reach, just close enough that they want to work harder to achieve it. Once the player can perform the skill/pattern consistently move on to a new challenge and continue to find new areas of the player’s game to improve.
An opportunity to learn can be found in every minute – Maybe the best way to get better quickly (when not practicing) is to become a good learner. During practice is not the only time that Learning takes place. Imagine looking at every hockey game you watch, every game you play, every hockey player/coach you meet, and other sports/activities as an occasion to learn and grow. It’s not easy, it can’t be done instantly, like everything you need to practice this strategy and it will get better with time.
Success is obtained by failing– If you are pushing yourself hard enough, you will fail, and you will learn. If you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough, then you’re too comfortable, you are afraid of embarrassing yourself, and it’s a hindrance to your development. Every failure is a chance to learn and grow.
Learn efficiently. How efficient are your practices? It’s great you’re at practice or working on your skills for 30 minutes at home, but you must give it your all, you can’t just go through the motions. Too many young athletes go to practice and go through the motion, not getting all, they can get from the practice. Don’t wait for someone to correct you, push yourself. If the drills aren’t challenging you, you need to challenge yourself with the drill. Get lower, go faster (or slower), push harder, try something a little different, ask yourself “how can I do this better.”
There is something valuable in everyone– No one player should feel more valuable than another in a team, although this often happens. It’s important to stress the point that everyone in the team is important and valuable for the team’s success. Every player will have their chance to make a difference in the team. You must treat, and train them this way.
The key to improvement is focused repetition– Many books, scientific studies, and research into skill development all come down to one key point. The more you do something, the better you get. It’s simple, practice often with a purpose. (for example, I know how to take a goal shot right handed, I have helped many players learn and improve their Goal shooting, I have a deep understanding of how the Goal shot works, however, if I attempt a backhand shot I look ridiculous…. it’s because I simply haven’t put in the time and reps!)
The goal is not to win. As a coach, your goal is to get the most out of each player (and staff member) you have, while you have them. Your goal is to teach, develop, motivate and inspire.
The process should be the goal; not a destination – If you set a goal with high expectations, and stumble early, you may lose all motivation and quickly give up on your goal. However, if your goal is simply to engage in the process of improvement – with your high expectations as your compass for your development – you will be achieving your goal every time you engage in the practice. This shift will keep you motivated longer and allow you to continue in development even after a goal is achieved.
If practice goes wrong, a drill fails, or a player doesn’t understand something it is my job as a coach to improve my delivery of the message. As a coach, I strive to make my instruction and expectations as clear as possible. When drills go wrong, I don’t blame the players, I rethink my delivery and improve.
The best teacher is a thing called Experience – While reading (or watching videos) is a great way to learn, actually doing something is the only way to improve and develop. Until the things you’ve learned have been tested and tweaked, they are not truly yours. For this reason, coaches and players should seek out every opportunity to practice. Practice turns information into tangible skills, potential into reality.
I think this is all for now. I’m still young in my coaching career and will continue to refine the above principles and beliefs while developing new ones 🙂
“Coaching isn’t a job. . It’s a away of life. ..You are either born for it or not. If you don’t love every second it, it’s not for you.”