Coaching hat trick: Passion, purpose and positivity
By Greg Bach
As a volunteer hockey coach you can notch a hat trick with your team.
It’s all about bringing passion, purpose and a positive personality, says Bruce Boudreau, head coach of the Minnesota Wild.
When you bring those to the rink – or any sport you happen to be coaching – your young athletes will reap big-time benefits.
“It’s important for volunteer coaches to bring the love that they have for the game,” says Boudreau, one of several highly-respected coaches who shared their insights in the National Alliance for Youth Sports’ Coaching Youth Sports training video that is hosted by ESPN’s Karl Ravech. “Let’s not try to make them Stanley Cup champions in one week.”
Instead, dial in to why you are really involved: To teach every child, have fun and foster a true love of the game so that they’ll be lacing up their skates for years to come.
“It is a game of fun and we want them to play,” Boudreau says. “Everybody loves to win but at the same time it’s a game and they’re not all going to make the NHL or play college hockey in Division I. But as parents we would all love to see them playing in adult leagues in their 20s and 30s because it’s a great form of exercise.”
PRACTICE: WHAT’S YOUR PLAN?
When coaches fail to come to practice prepared, the chances of having a productive session fizzle.
And kids will notice the lackadaisical effort.
Plus, if you’re not prepared it’s difficult for them to be enthused about working hard.
“I know volunteer coaches have other jobs and children of their own and all of these other things going on but at the same time they have to be prepared when they come to practice,” Boudreau says. “They have to come to coach and they have to be as passionate about the game as their players are.”
They also need plenty of good drills to run as they hit the ice, and alternatives to turn to for any that unexpectedly flop.
“The kids are there to learn and they are there to get better,” he says. “Kids that play hockey want to get better so you have to have some sort of concept of what you are doing.”
And that doesn’t mean endless laps around the rink.
“Hockey drills and system play is fun,” Boudreau says. “But if you’ve got a coach who says that ‘we have to be in better shape, line up at the red line and we’re going to skate for an hour’ nobody wants to do that. So, you can make things fun but it doesn’t have to be ‘oh, let’s have fun by not having a structured practice.’ You can have structured practices and feel real good about yourself when the day is done.”
Kids are always watching, and their attitudes and behaviors will be shaped by their coach’s words and actions.
“The coach has to be a good sport himself,” Boudreau says. “If the coach is behind the bench and all he is doing is swearing at the referees and the other team it’s amazing how kids gain the personality of the coach. If they gain the personality from a negative impact then they’re in trouble.”
So, when you’re talking to your players about the importance of being good sports be sure to back it up 100 percent with behavior you’ll be proud to have your players emulate.
An important part of coaching is motivating – and that means every child.
And a blanket approach is sure to fail; it requires figuring out what works for each youngster.
“It’s the coach’s job if there are 18 different personalities on the team then there are 18 different ways that you have to motivate these guys individually,” Boudreau says. “So, it’s a tough go but it’s their job and that’s what makes it challenging – and everybody loves challenges.”
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