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Passion equals initiative when it comes to coaching

 

The fellow didn’t have the tattered professorial look I can recall from my halcyon college days of another epoch. He wore an open-collared sport shirt under a natty sport jacket and rather bounced around the small stage. He punctuated his commentary with verbal bold and italics, even the occasional underlined phrase when his voice rose a few notes.

He was passionate about his subject, which made sense since the subject was having passion. A university teacher, he’d been researching and teaching the topic, especially as it pertains to hockey. In the case of the summer hockey coaches seminar where I heard him speak, he was preaching to the converted.

One remark stood out though. “When you have passion,” he said, “you look for ways to make it work.” It initially made sense, but is it true? Do our minor hockey coaches, who all seem to be passionate about the game and working with kids, actually seek ways to make it work. I’m not so sure they do.

A passionate coach, to me, is someone who asks questions and looks for better methods to provide the kids a good hockey education. Resorting to traditional approaches simply because they’ve always been done isn’t reflective of much except perhaps laziness to improve a program.

This is what I regularly see and hear: “I love the game”, coaches profess. “I like helping kids”, they add. I’ll put in those 10 hours or more a week to coach because I’m committed to making the kids better in a game I’m passionate about. But heck, I’m coaching local recreational level nine year olds. It’s not such a big deal. Or, I’m coaching local midget kids who fled competitive hockey because there was just too much of everything.

Back to yours truly. So then let me clarify for my own edification. You’re passionate about coaching and kids, yet it’s not very important - in your view - to share that passion through exciting practices, fun and invigorating activities, and active coaching. It’s acceptable to offer a bare minimum of creativity. It’s just fine to have the kids go around the five circles for the umpteenth time, purportedly to practice crossovers even though they coast without really doing them. A practice warm-up consists of coasting around the rink, rotating an arm or twirling a stick or attempting a groin stretch, all while skating ONLY counter-clockwise. There’s nothing wrong with using a drill you got from a book or web site and you just stand there watching the kids sort of do it, like being stopped at a railway crossing and seeing the railcars go by. And an end-of-practice scrimmage just has to be full ice 5-on-5, right?

Are you really a passionate coach… or a passionate fan?

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