The dream of every hockey player and coach is to lead their team to the Stanley Cup finals. Few achieve this milestone, let alone master the craft of coaching. The good news is there is a method to the madness. Below we outline the steps to become a successful hockey coach.
1. Identify Your Talents
One of the first things you’ll need to do is identify your talents. This is where your journey as a coach will start. If you’re lucky enough to be selected to coach a youth team, you’ll need to assess whether you have the skills to lead a team of young players. This is a difficult task, as you’ll need to gain an unrivalled understanding of the sport. To do this, you should take on a mentorship program with a former NHL coach. This individual will teach you the ins and outs of coaching, and ensure you’re prepared for the demands of an ice rink.
2. Study Trends
Hockey is a constantly evolving game. New trends emerge, and existing trends change. To become a successful coach, you’ll need to keep up with these changes. Fortunately, this is made easy with the widespread use of technology. One of the best resources available is Stats.Hockey, which collates all the relevant stats for every NHL game. Having this information at your fingertips is a crucial tool in analyzing the game. You can use trends to your advantage. For example, you might look to see which teams are successfully using fast-paced offense, or which players are thriving off a physical game.
3. Identify Your Own Style
Some coaches prefer to work in a structured, precise manner, issuing instructions and watching over their teams from the bench. Other coaches value freedom, and allow their teams to develop their game in their own style. It’s important to identify your own style, and ensure you’re comfortable with it. Some coaches are better at motivating their players than others. You’ll need to develop your skillset, but you must be comfortable with your own personality. Only you can decide if you have the necessary communication skills to coach others.
4. Learn The Art Of Coaching
The best coaches in the world can’t make a perfectly flat hockey puck, or control every game situation. This is why you’ll need to study the art of coaching. Like any craft, there are methods and techniques to passing on your expertise. To become a successful coach, you’ll need to learn the essentials: how to prepare your team, how to manage your bench, and how to evaluate your players’ performances. Once you’ve mastered these basics, you can move on to the more challenging aspects of leadership, creating an atmosphere of high motivation, and how to handle criticism and feedback. There are countless resources available online to guide you on your journey. With the world of hockey at your fingertips, the sky is the limit.
5. Play The Numbers Game
The data analysis tool that every coach should know and love is hockey probability. With this tool at your disposal, you can project each team’s probability of winning, given the current conditions. For example, if you’re playing the Buffalo Sabres, you’d want to bet on them because they have the best record this season. Similarly, the best strategy is often the simplest one: accumulating as many wins as possible. This is why you must play the numbers game. You can also use this tool to assess which players have the best odds of helping your team win.
6. Identify Areas For Improvement
Although you’d never admit it, every coach has areas for improvement. Perhaps you’re not comfortable with the way your team prepares for games, or you think your communication with the players is lacking. Once you’ve identified these elements, you can work to rectify them. This will lead to greater team cohesion, and higher standards of performance. As a coach, you’ll always have room for improvement, and never be satisfied with your work. The good news is you can take this on as a learning experience, and continue to develop as a coach.
Having the ability to coach at the highest levels is a mark of greatness. Few have the privilege of helping their teams fulfill their potential, and lead them to the ultimate victory. However, anyone can become a successful coach, with the right guidance, and the determination to learn. If you’re looking for a career in hockey, or just want to become a better coach, there’s no other option but to follow the blueprint laid out above. With this in mind, you can develop the necessary skills, and be on your way to greatness.