Being a hockey coach isn’t easy. Coaches have to deal with parents and their complaints and worries. They also have to spend extra hours practicing and working with their team members, and the pay typically isn’t all that good. Some coaches are even volunteers, working full-time jobs and juggling coaching duties at the same time for no pay!
Obviously, not everyone is going to be cut out for this (sometimes thankless) job. There are, however, a rare few who absolutely love what they do, despite some of the difficulties involved. Hopefully, if you are a coach, you fall into the “good coach” category. If you’re a parent, then hopefully your child is working with a good coach. If not, there are some easy ways to tell if a coach is off his game and not doing his job to the best of his ability.
A bad coach is....
1. Insensitive to the players’ feelings: Kids, as they say, will be kids. That means that young players are never going to behave perfectly all the time. Even when they’re misbehaving, however, a good coach is still concerned for their feelings. Instead of disciplining a child loudly in front of others, he will take the child aside, gently explain what was done wrong, and let the consequences for continued bad behavior be known. There is never any value in purposefully embarrassing a child and making him or her feel bad in front of others.
2. Critical without being constructive: Part of a coach’s job is to analyze what the players are doing right and what they’re doing wrong. The difference between a good coach and a bad coach, however, is that a bad coach will simply point out the mistakes and make the player feel bad for them while a good coach will provide constructive criticism that includes suggestions on how to improve without shaming the player.
3. Focused only on winning: No one likes to lose, and everyone likes to win. For coaches, though, winning should not be their main focus. Instead, their focus should be on helping the players to have fun, gain valuable life skills from the game, and to improve as athletes. All of these things, as well as the safety and overall well being of the players, have to be put ahead of winning.
4. Focused only on specific players: There are always going to be some players on the team who are better than others. A bad coach allows these players to become the “stars” of the team. He will give them preferential treatment in everything from games to rule-breaking. Skill should be encouraged and celebrated, but good coaches know how to find value in every member of their team and how to avoid playing favorites, which only breeds resentment among the players.
If you’re a coach, hopefully you haven’t noticed any of these traits in yourself. If you have, it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf or to admit that coaching might not be right for you.
If you’re a parent and you’ve seen these bad behaviors in your child’s coach, it may be time to look into finding a different team- one with a positive, supportive, passionate coach- for your child.