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Deflections - Let’s Assume…


Assumptions. With regard to coaching, minor hockey is guilty of making plenty of them. Sometimes it’s almost standard operating procedure for a lot of reasons, many of which have few viable alternatives. 

For example, one of an association’s better coaches the last few years has been through the Initiation Program then novice and atom. He’s been coaching his own child, a typical scenario. Now he gets to pee wee and his child jumps to a higher calibre team. It’s assumed he’ll be a good coach. Why?

Because he’s a good guy with a fine track record with young kids? However, pee wees aren’t so young anymore and the new level’s expectations are a far cry from novice house league where he began. What training or preparation has he had (or been provided)? Probably none. Why should this fellow have a handle on the needs of competitive 11-year-olds and know how to construct a proper program for them when none of his experiences to date have even touched on it? 

A local former minor pro player has been hired to run skills training for an association. He coached a couple of years but mostly just teaches these skills. He’s a beautiful demonstrator of various skills and has a strong on-ice presence. 

Questions to ask him to bypass the standard assumptions that great players or skaters can teach and correct: What training, formal or through personal development, have you had? Are you familiar with Hockey Canada’s LTPD? Provide a progression for teaching forward crossovers that focuses on the three most important teaching points? How do you correct, and what feedback do you give, to a group of nine year olds who have trouble doing back skating transitions? Explain how skills are generally acquired.

A longtime coach with the boys’ bantam and midget elite teams has been “pressured” at home to now coach his daughter’s recreational atom team. He should be able to pull this off, shouldn’t he? After all, hockey is hockey, isn’t it? Just tone down the drills and be a little more patient, right? There shouldn’t be any real issues with this girls team, should there?

A former AHL and NHL coach has moved into the area and has offered to help the association – for free. His child (or nephew or niece or grandchild) is playing there and he’d like to offer his services. At first glance, what would you have him do? Why? And if you’re not sure, what would you ask him (without being intimidated or insulting him) in order to find out what he can offer? 

Or, for all of the above, do you not bother with any of these questions and just forge ahead letting coaches do what they do and have always done?

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