Coaches love to offer constructive criticism.
Teaching and correcting mistakes, after all, is a big part of the "mission statement" of being a coach.
But who critiques the coach?
At the NHL level media and fans are quick to fill that role, blasting the losing coach over the broadcast airwaves, in the newspapers and via social media. Yes, lose a few games in a row and all an NHL bench boss has to do is jump on Twitter to receive a quick (and sometimes profane) review of his performance and a pile of suggestions on how to right the sinking ship.
Minor hockey coaches, however, aren't usually roasted in such public fashion. Sure, a few frustrated hockey moms and dads might rip the coach while they're driving home from the rink, upset perhaps that "Little Johnny" didn't get enough ice time or wasn't on the power play, etc. But most parents (Thank the hockey gods!) don't confront the coach face-to-face. So if you're looking for an idea about how you're progressing, it helps to critique yourself.
For the past few years, I've kept a "Coach's Journal" that outlines some of the things I've swung and missed on along the way. I review it every few weeks to remember how I dropped the ball so that I can try to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.
Here are a few of the items from my journal, and perhaps you can relate with some of the entries.
- Don't forget to recognize and develop the middle and/or younger part of your roster. They can sometimes get lost at the expense of the elite players who lead the team, and the really poor players who you're trying to encourage to keep playing the game.
- Listen to suggestions from your assistant coaches and always take their input seriously.
- If you're coaching your own child, don't treat them BETTER than anyone else - but don't treat them WORSE.
- Don't go out of your way to monitor potential cheating by the other team - but don't allow other teams to manipulate the rules. You have to stick up for your players to provide them with an equal playing field.
- Be careful about making promises to players. (Playing a specific position, getting extra ice time, etc.) Kids remember EVERYTHING!
- Continue to show patience and try to make each team you coach, and each season, as special as possible. Be positive and upbeat with players and parents and remember; it's the "little things" that count!
One more thing that counts for a lot – Trying to be the best possible coach you can be.
And keeping your own "Coach's Journal" is an excellent way to make sure that we coaches are getting a little "coaching" ourselves.
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