Today is a message for all coaches: Coaches – let’s start coaching.
Let me explain.
Often I hear coaches talk about players not listening, or players don’t do this, or players, players, players. Especially around the teenage years, you have the distractions of girls, you have the distractions of cars, having a little more freedom, and other different things.
Coaches are like “The players aren’t interested anymore. They’re doing their own things, they don’t listen.” I was talking to a GM of one of the clubs who spoke about the uniforms they got for their players. The players don’t want to wear their uniforms because they’re not cool, and this and that, and there’s no buy-in.
Coaches, I don’t care if you’re a volunteer, I don’t care if you’re paid. Once you sign that sheet, once you say you’re going to lead this team, everything at the end of the day falls on your shoulders. So, your name’s on that. The team wins – your name’s on that. The team loses – your name’s on that.
As a leader you don’t have the option of just saying “Oh well” and just throwing your hands up. If your kids aren’t listening and the point you’re trying to make isn’t getting through to them, it’s up to you to find another way. You’ve got to shift. You’ve got to be maneuverable.
You have to be able to coach these kids. You have to be able to motivate these kids. You have to be able to tell these kids there’s something within them that they may not even see in themselves. You’ve got to call that out in them. You’ve got to be able to pull that out in them.
You cannot trust that fifteen, sixteen-year-old to know what they want to do with their life. You can’t. There are the rare kids that do have a plan, of course. But for the ones that aren’t listening, the ones that aren’t buying in – don’t give up on them. Keep pushing. Keep trying to shift the message. If it’s sternness that’s not getting to them, make it a little bit lighter. If it’s lighter that not getting to them, make it a little bit personal. If it’s personal that’s not getting to them, make it more exciting.
Figure out a way to get through the situation, whatever it is. Too often what we see is a massive drop-off. With kids, even myself, I love kids at the PeeWee, Bantam level because they get it. They have enough humility, they want to get better, so they listen to you. So that’s the age between ten and fourteen.
But that age of fifteen, sixteen, seventeen – often they think they know everything. They’re going through puberty, they’re going through a lot of changes and I get that. But now you’ve got to reach down, you’ve got to get to their level, you’ve got to relate to them and you’ve got to get through to them.
Right now, I want to encourage all the coaches out there, no matter what situation you’re in, no matter if your team’s doing well, no matter if the kids aren’t listening and the team’s not doing well, find a way. Keep working through it. Because at the end of the day, you have the amazing opportunity to breathe life into these kids. You have an amazing opportunity to help direct the trajectory of their career. And it’s not only a hockey player, it’s not only an athlete, but as a person. And that carries a lot of weight.
So, for all the coaches, you guys are invaluable, you guys are important, and we care about you. Keep on coaching and don’t give up. Finish the season hard and do the best that you can do so when you walk away from that team, that season, you know you gave it your all, just as you expect your players to do.