It's a testament to the ridiculous nature of our schedule that, two weeks before Christmas, our season is 60% done. There's been precious little time to step back and assess how the team and individuals are faring, apart from the standings and stats. Neither in minor hockey says much about their developmental progress.
Normally at the halfway point of a season I've managed to do a fair amount of self and player assessment. Then I'd meet with individuals to discuss where they are and where they're going. This bantam season, it's pretty much impossible to pull off. Game after game after game with intermittent practices. Sounds more like a dismal weather forecast.
Nevertheless, I need to slither into reflection mode, however brief. For starters, I’m cobbling together a mid-season evaluation survey to send to parents and the kids. The association doesn’t do it; few of them do. During a stint as the mentor for a club some years ago, I insisted parents and players be given mid-season evaluations to do of the coach, his staff and the program. Part of it was to force the coach to do some reflection of his own and thus work at improving what he offered. And, frankly, the other part was for the club and me to get feedback because we couldn’t possibly be around the team all the time. Besides, usually when a arrived at the board’s doorstep, it had actually become an issue rather than being intercepted early and addressed, which was another another reason for the mid-season report.
Am I looking for anything in particular? Not really. Just the anomalies. Like a teacher, it’s impossible for a coach to please everyone all the time. However, after having supervised these for other coaches, it’s always been interesting how little gems of information no one knew seem to rise from nowhere. Suddenly we find out one boy doesn’t get along with certain teammates. Or, in spite of what we might see on the ice, another is losing his confidence. Perhaps someone is contemplating quitting the game at the end of the year. Since kids aren’t always forthcoming with coaches, and I’d be no exception, I wonder what things I’ll discover.
I’m less concerned about my kids’ playing development than whether or not they so far view the season as having been a valuable and fun experience. We can’t measure either of course. I’m fairly sure every boy has shown improvement in some way on the ice in a wide array of particular skills. Even ones who’ve floundered show signs of “getting it.”
It’s the soft skills I fret over. Have they become more respectful of teammates, opposition teams, and, in fact, the game? Are they comfortable coming to me or other coaches about team issues? Do they FEEL they’re improving? Do they look forward to coming to the rink? Is every hour with the team a good one, a fun one?
And then, what do I need to change in myself at this 60% midway point?
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