Don’t ‘over-coach’ during games
As the clock wound down in the third period of the famous 1980 Olympic hockey game between the United States and Soviet Union and Team USA clung to a 3-2 lead, coach Herb Brooks calmy said: “Play your game. Play your game.”
No fabricated goaltender equipment issues forged time-outs. Not even a dry erase board to draw up some sort of 01-02-02 or 02-03 trap.
Coaches today far too often over-think and, hence, confuse their players by over-coaching during game-play.
Why? I am not exactly certain. But it is frustrating and even somewhat maddening.
It may have something to do with television and the internet broadcasting so many of the higher-level contests today, from Bantam AAA through Junior A and B and beyond. To me, it boils down to the fact that the large majority of coaches that get paid (and many that do not) seem to feel that they need to get their own “face-time.” And, if they do not grab that sharpie and rink-board and appear to be manufacturing some sort of magical play that no one in the history of the game has ever pondered, that they aren't doing their respective jobs.
Ice hockey is a game that CANNOT be diagrammed or programmed or SCRIPTED.
It is an intense "feel-game."
The movement of the puck is predicated upon so many factors, most of which cannot be anticipated. Assuming we won the face-off, now how much space are they granting the player with possession? Are there passing-lane options? Can he/she skate with it and/or take-fake a shot? Goaltender sightlines obstructed? Who is moving in what direction? At what speed?
You see, if you told the player that he had to slide it down low, then that is where he/she will likely force-it. Guess what? That may have been the very least desirable of options! Then, he/she gets lambasted on the bench or in the-room for making such a "bone-head" decision.
And, from the defensive-oriented perspective, do we really need to "draw-up" a command to order your largest and most adept-with-a-stick "d" to not leave the front of the cage under any circumstances?
At the risk of offending some of my readers, I must be honest and state that it seems to me that the coaches that have competed at the higher levels appear to understand precisely what I am attempting to emphasize.
They realize that decisions are made, for a myriad of reasons, by the puck handler in mostly 100ths of a second time-frames as he/she scans the surface.
They also know and sense that the true coaching is executed in practice.
If this is so, players – as with Brooks' 1980 Olympic club – can fall back on habits locked within their respective muscle-memory systems during well-planned and well-run practice drills. This leaves them with the ability to easily harness and leverage instincts, as I referenced earlier.
This is not to say that all coaches that were fortunate enough to play at a high-level internalize and espouse what I've put forth above. Here's to hoping that they, too, immediately begin to take my message-to-heart.
Save your more intricate and detailed coaching for practices. Inspire, motivate, encourage and lead during games.
Do so and watch your team begin to soar upward in your league and even national rankings. And, just as importantly, they'll like and appreciate you far more.
Best of luck.
From the NHL on down, ONE coach should be directing and managing ALL bench activities during games.
At its core, ice hockey is a simple game. We defend, transition, attack and get back. If two, three or even four mouths are jabbering at youngsters during a contest, confusion reigns supreme.
If you are not capable of handling both the forwards and defense and tracking their ice time and contributions – both positive and negative – by yourself, then, for the betterment of the team and its roster of players,, you should not accept a head coaching position.
A youth coaching trend that I find offensive and intimidating to on-ice officials finds head coaches placing a foot on the boards during live game-action. In my opinion, that is unprofessional, devoid of class and unsafe. It should be an immediate and automatic bench penalty and maybe more.
Coaches, don't do it. It is not necessary or useful in any way. Quite the opposite is true.
Lubanski’s company – Wilderness Xtreme Sports – invents bold new takes on traditional sporting competition. You can learn more at www.wxsports.net. You can also call Paul at 248-762-6998 for team/organizational motivational speaking or coaching en-hancement presentations.