Look for teachable moments for your players
In my opinion, it is incumbent upon coaches to take advantage of as many “teachable moments” as possible throughout a competitive campaign regardless of a team’s age or ability level.
That idea begs these two questions:
1. How do we define teachable moment?
2. Why is it critical that a coach both identify and take advantage of as many as possible throughout the course of a playing season?
A teachable moment is one where a poignant, profound occurrence fosters an opportunity for a coach to make an indelible, positive impression on a youngster.
For example: A coach is sitting with his/her 11-year-old players in the lobby of an arena before a game when the group witnesses members of an upcoming opponent bully a teammate to the point of tears.
That is a huge teachable moment.
And the more such moments you take full advantage of, the better coach you become! Wins and losses do NOT solely define your contribution to youth ice hockey – far from it.
Here is how it works:
After a game, practice or team activity, ask each player how he or she has contributed to making the team a better team that day. You are forcing your players to understand that their responsibility to the team comes first. That is big-time coaching!
By the way, the players’ answers could be as elementary as: “I focused on hitting the net with shots because that helps my goaltender get better.”
Wow! I’d love to get 10 of those answers, wouldn’t you?
Funny thing: On the surface, it may seem contradictory to a youngster’s personal improvement to concentrate on improving the team when, in reality, the opposite is true.
When a player works diligently to improve skills with the idea of team front and center in his/her mind, those efforts will help that player grow in the long run.
What a concept!
It’s crucial to securing your parents’ participation in this effort. In fact, requiring moms, dads, grandparents and guardians to ask the same question right after each team function will reinforce the concept. Then coaches can discuss the player’s responses at subsequent evaluation meetings.
It should be easy to see that the theme of today’s column literally transcends youth sports.
In other words, individual real-world success typically hinges upon your ability to be an asset to those around you.
The strategy I have outlined lays that foundation. And it is what I would deem inspirational, positive and just plain good coaching!
Best of luck,
Paul Lubanski is president of Wilderness Xtreme Sports. He can be contacted at 248-762-6998.