Connecting & Communicating with Players

In order for a coach to be effective, he/she must be able to communicate effectively with his/her players.  Coaches need to know who they’re coaching – not just names and faces, but also personalities, goals, and desires.  When a coach begins to understand the “why’s” of his/her players, then the lines of clear and effective communication can begin.

Here are three quick ways to get to know your players better:

  1. Have an early-season 1 on 1 conversation with each player – ask them to tell you why they’re playing hockey, what their goals are, and how they think they can be an asset to the team.  These questions give you insight to their actions and behaviors.  Finally, ask the player what he/she thinks he/she should improve on.  This will help you get an idea of how they view their deficiencies – but most importantly, this should give you insight as to how to help this player continue to improve his/her game.
  2. Get to know three things about the player outside the rink setting – find out if they play instruments, other sports, have hobbies, etc.  This will help you get to *really* know the player.  The more you know about them away from the ice, the easier it is to figure out the reasoning behind their behaviors at the rink, and the more information you’ll have to draw from when you need to have a serious conversation with the skater.
  3. Hold at least one activity away from the rink – breaking the routine at the rink (yes, 6-8 month seasons can get to be a grind) will not only help you as a coach get to know your players better, but will help your players get to know you better as well.  I’m a firm believer there’s a real benefit in letting players see your non-coaching side.  This can really help in creating a trusting connection with your team…and trust is key in communication.

Got some more ways to connect and communicate?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

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