“How you do anything is how you do everything.” –source unknown
This is a great quote, and one relevant to everyone in the hockey coaching field. With so much happening on the ice, it’s often easy to overlook small bad habits that creep in to teams. Eliminating these habits will not only make you a stronger team, but also help form players with better character.
- Shooting pucks after the coach blows the whistle – the coach blows the whistle to bring the group together, and the players begin to slowly wander to where the coach is standing…usually shooting a puck or two along the way. Coaches need to demand the attentiveness of the players. Set a rule – for example: “make it to where I’m at in 5 seconds or less, or we’ll all skate.” It usually only takes once or twice before the players will get the message and hustle in….bypassing the stray pucks.
- Leaning on the boards – I personally believe you can tell more about a player from their body language than from their verbal communication. Leaning on the boards tells me instantly the player would rather be somewhere else and is un-engaged in the practice. If your players are tired, allow them to “grab a knee” instead. Besides – few players huffing-and-puffing on one knee looks a heck of a lot better than a bunch of players leaning on the boards lazily.
- Quitting before the drill is complete – I like to call this one the “5-foot coast.” If a drill finishes at the blue line, the drill needs to finish at the blue line….not 5-10 feet before it. This little extra effort will pay off, and more importantly teaches players a good life lesson: go hard to the finish line!
- Slamming sticks in frustration – there’s nothing like watching a kid slam a $200 stick against the ice because he missed the net. Not only is it disrespectful to the parents who (most likely) paid for the stick, it’s a very immature display. Draw this line early in the season!
Eliminating these seeming small habits will go a long way to creating a more disciplined team…..but more importantly, developing players with a strong character.