Partnering with Hockey Coaches and Teammates

Hockey is an emotional sport. Players, parents and coaches invest a tremendous amount of energy and resources in the sport. We outlined the role of the coach with development in a prior article. All persons, coaches, parents and players because of the emotional, financial and often physical investment they make in the sport sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. When individuals loose their cool they risk their investment in the sport. There are many ways the different participants loose their cool. There are in game situations and out of game situations. In game situations are when players committing penalties and hurting their teams, coaches committing penalties, using profanity or yelling at other coaches or referees or parents who scream at referees, players and coaches. Out of game situations are parents confronting coaches or vice versa, coaches confronting players and parents confronting player and other parents. Sometimes it gets so bad that parents confront other players on their team or other teams.

The fundamental disconnect in many of these confrontations is respect. When parents don’t respect coaches, parents, or players or when coaches don’t respect parents, players or referees or when players don’t respect each other, coaches, parents or referees. What are the reasons for most hockey disagreements and besides using respect, common sense and discretion when handling difficult hockey people what else can be done to create win win situations?

Hockey disagreements between players, referees, coaches and parents usually fall in the following categories:
1) Unhappiness about development of player or how a player is being developed (as perceived by parent or coach).
2) Unhappiness in outcome of a game.
3) Unhappiness in players role in game (playing time, position, playing lines, etc..).

What can be done to create win win situations?
1) Coaches must do a better job of explanation of the process of development and get buy in from parents at the beginning of season. As the season progresses there should be timely feedback and communication with parents so buy in for the process is still there. Often due to the intensity of the season it is difficult for this communication to occur and a disconnect is created.
2) Parents must ask the difficult questions prior to selecting the team or do their due diligence. Often coaches don’t relate how important winning is to them or discuss their methodology. Many coaches are paid for winning and their goals are disconnected from parents who want their kids to develop.
3) Coaches must choose players for teams they belong in and don’t “sell false hopes.” Families must be told of player roles ahead of time if the roles are decided ahead of season. If a player is chosen for a team there is a responsibility of the player to work hard and the families to support the coach. It is the responsibility of the coach to communicate to the families that put their trust in him/her.
4) I recommend reading the article development and the coach and watching the video. Often coaches and hockey programs lose sight of what is truly important in youth hockey. It is the youth. Winning at all cost and making winning decisions but sacrificing team development is a losing strategy. Coaches should be in the youth hockey business for the right reasons.
5) Parents should trust the coaches they have. Coaches have been trained to teach players and develop hockey players. Trust them to do the right things. Timely questions that are open ended that engage coaches to explain are better then close ended questions that direct coaches. How would you like it if somebody kept telling you how to do your job? Not so much fun. Coaches don’t make that much money and they do it for the love of the game and the kids.

Although it is often said respect is critical.

The goal of is to be a advocate for talented youth hockey players. We offer need based financial aid to hockey players (no skill based aid sorry) along with opportunities for Elite Hockey Development. If you would like to participate in our programs and have a financial need don’t hesitate to email Good luck to all that participate in elite youth hockey and best wishes to all youth hockey families. To be notified of programs we run please apply.

What to expect when Body Checking starts

Body Checking is a fundamental skill in hockey that changes the game for players as they transition from Peewee to Bantam. With the new USA Hockey rules implemented over the last few years body contact and body positioning has been expanded to allow the transition to body checking a little easier. The biggest issue with checking is that as a players move into their Bantam years (12 and 13 year old kids) they are all on different growth patterns. You may see a 12 year old kid who has had his growth spurt playing against peers who have not. This leads to size mismatches that cause many potentially capable players to stop playing hockey because they are not big enough to endure the physical game. Added to this is many players have not been properly taught how to check and disregard safety that leads to serious on ice injuries.

There are many other types of checking then body checking. Stick checks, poke checks, and back checks to name a few. We are concentrating our discussion to body checking. Checking can be defined as using physical force, without breaking the rules to either gain possession of the puck or to disrupt the other player’s play. All experts will agree that the most important aspect of checking is body positioning. It is important to position yourself before the check and be in the correct position after the check. Causes of poor body checks are penalties, injuries, and errors that cause the other team to score. Delivering a proper check relates to the position of the other player and the position of the checking player. Proper checks are made to the front and side of the other player. Poor checks are to the head or back of the player you are checking. As a person receiving the check it is most important to keep your head up while skating. Many injuries are caused by not being attentive to the play around you while skating. So what should you expect when checking starts:

1) Poor checking. Watch out for misguided players who don’t know what they are doing. Hopefully this will not last more than 2 months into season.

2) Injuries. More concussions, more injuries related to additional body contact. Medical professionals agree your body is probably not ready for body checking until age 15.

3) Penalties and Fights. Player will have to control emotions and focus on the game.

4) Faster game. Player will need to increase speed and skills to out smart the physical play.

The goal of is to be a advocate for talented youth hockey players. Good luck to all that participate in elite youth hockey and best wishes to all youth hockey families. To be notified of programs we run please apply.

Development and the Coach

A game changing player is easy to notice. You may notice the speed or the skill, the determination or the quiet confidence. What you don’t see gives the most insight. You don’t see the many positive coaches that have spent the time and care to teach and develop this player. Good coaches teach the game, provide instruction for skill development and push players to their upper limits of potential. Although easy said this is often very difficult to do.

There are many forces present that prevent coaches from doing the very job that makes them good. In youth hockey coaches are unfortunately measured on wins and losses. Coach A must be good because his team went 25 – 5. Clubs, coaches and hockey directors disillusioned by wanting fame focus on winning. Players are no longer developing skills that will further their career in the sport but learning traps and placed on a short bench that gains the coach, club and team wins. Players on these teams are forced to train independently to keep their edge. Great hockey players are even better athletes. Although positional teaching helps the team win near term games a great coach realizes that playing other sports and developing athletic ability are important for the long term development of the players. Players need to spend athletic time away from the rink and that means encouraging other individual and team sports and working with the player so they can meet the demands of multiple sports and school.

Great coaches teach and help players develop skills. Winning and improvement in games are result of the work towards improving players. In youth sports the focus on winning, recruiting and the end justifies the mean approach create players that cannot advance in the sport and coaches that are rated by the wrong metrics. Great coaches not only teach the game, they teach responsibility, respect and reward hard work. How often have we seen coaches give entitlements to a few players that they had to recruit very hard to help the team win while other players seem to be measured at different standards. Great coaches understand that entitlements, different standards and other mistakes can hurt development and the team. The ultimate accomplishments of youth players are defining mark for great coaches not the personal fame that comes from putting a team of stars together.

We will be running training programs with great coaches and will be forming teams for spring/summer tournament competition for Spring/Summer 2014. Please fill out player application for consideration. We will have teams in birth years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Please click birth year link for more information on tournaments for your birth year. Please Apply for Invite Here