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Deflections - Where are we going?


We’re approaching the end of 2016, but the hockey season is only midway. In fact, in some competitive locales, the regular season ends in January. Does anyone else have difficulty understanding that?

It’s about now though when organizations should be looking ahead, and not just to hiring coaches or setting up spring tryouts (something else I don’t understand). One basic question must be asked: where are we going with our program? As the oft stated caveat says, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

Coach selection is a good place to start. In competitive programs, the process begins as early as late January. This must be a little unsettling for incumbents to see people hovering overhead wanting their jobs with the season still underway. House leagues often wait until the spring or later. In both cases, does the association know the kind of coach it is seeking?

Parent or non-parent coaches? At what ages or levels? I know of an ex-pro who publicly wondered why his friend, another ex-pro, was not awarded a AAA coaching job. It didn’t matter that his friend had no minor coaching background nor certification. As well, the organization didn’t want parent coaches, which he was. At least they had a plan and rationale for it, even if you don’t agree.

On the point of coach selection, where do you put your strongest technical people? Is that even a consideration? What about coaches whose communication skills are excellent but are technically average or worse? Should competent coaches, especially ones who are technically proficient, have teams for more than a couple of years? Example: both years of novice and atom. Why? Why not?

In other words, does the organization have an idea where it’s going with development?

Which is the ideal segue to the issue of having a development plan… is there one? As plans are made to select coaches, is the association sharing with them their vision for development? It’s a pretty important point. Without one, a coach can go to an interview or write on his application just about anything (short of extremes, like power plays in novice) and it should be acceptable. On what grounds can the association argue otherwise?

Moving back to the overall vision for an association, where is it going with respect to further training for its coaches? One can’t rely solely on the coaching certification program. It’s impossible for the NCCP to provide comprehensive training. So then, given a vision for what the association needs, where does it want to go in further developing its coaches, too?

In other words, what road to take?

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