Here are ten statements from former minor hockey players whose coaches played a key role in their development, and understanding what coaches teach on and off the ice can be key life learning skills for players...
“I love hockey”
Coaches can give players a lasting love of the game. Teach them good basic hockey skills, help them appreciate a strong sense of team play, and invoke standards for sportsmanship. Do those three things, and you’ll leave players with a positive experience that will keep them coming back to the game again and again.
“Some of my minor hockey teammates are still my best friends”
A coach can give players an opportunity to make lasting friendships. Give players the opportunity to learn each other’s names and outside interests; give them opportunities to support and count on each other as teammates. That way, you give them a chance to become good friends.
“Hockey taught me how far I can go with a little hard work”
A coach can help instill a positive work ethic. Challenge players, set expectations, and reward accomplishments for them as individuals. Those things help them learn the value and pleasure of hard work.
“A bit of teamwork can accomplish so much”
Coaches can help players learn the value of cooperation, trust, and interdependence. Cultivate an atmosphere of working together and helping each other out, showing examples of how much more can be accomplished with a little help from a friend.
“Coach believed in me so much, I had to start believing in myself”
A coach can go a long way toward giving players self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. Give players repeated opportunities to achieve — even little things — and acknowledge their achievements. Reinforce and remind them of what they do well and what is good and unique about them.
“I still play, and I’m 73”
Coaches can help players develop an appreciation for a healthy, active lifestyle. Make fitness and activity feel good. Help players enjoy the freedom of movement, the competency of having strength, and the pleasure of physical capability.
“There’s nothing like swapping stories with a group of hockey players”
A coach can give players a ready source of entertainment and sense of belonging wherever they go. Encourage locker-room banter and storytelling. Bring in guest hockey players to tell hockey stories. Create experiences that give players their own stories.
“Coach made us think and break out of the mold, which helped me get where I am today”
Coaches can give players the freedom to develop independent thought and self-sufficiency. Encourage analytical thinking — and then trying and failing and learning from it. Support determination and commitment, which helps players stand on their own two feet.
“Hockey taught me that discipline is not a bad word”
A coach can give players a healthy respect for rules and authority. Give them opportunities to determine their own rules and to be their own authority when no one is looking. Provide rules and consequences and explain the advantages of having both. Help them set behavioral expectations for themselves and objectively discuss any failures to meet them. Teach players how respect is a two-way street.
“I learned what it means to have passion for what I’m doing, and it’s made my life full and exciting”
Coaches can help players to develop a zest for life. Help players to experience passion — for how they play, how they practice, how they help their teammates, and how they are as people on the ice and away from the rink. Encourage them to explore their passions no matter how temporary.
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