Everyone who has any real experience in the hockey world knows that a team cannot function well or win frequently if all the players are focused only on themselves and their best interests. Instead, a successful hockey team needs to have members who care about the group as a whole and who look out for one another’s best interests. Believe it or not, you can help to foster this atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie. It doesn’t, as some believe, just happen or not happen. It is something you can and should work to build and grow among your players.
Give Everyone a Respected Voice
First things first, a lot of coaches make the mistake of setting up a team atmosphere in which they do all the talking and the players do all the listening and obeying.
While is is true that all players need to listen to and respect their coach above all else, it’s also true that every player should have some kind of voice.
Coaches should make space, such as in team meetings, for each player who likes to bring up opinions or thoughts. It is the coach’s job to make sure each player is listened to with respect and care, no matter what he may say. The coach should also encourage those more quiet players to speak up.
When players see their coach listening to, valuing, and responding to each and every opinion, they quickly learn that each and every voice on the team matters. Thus, respect grows among the whole team, leading to a much more respectful, much more winning atmosphere on the whole.
Interaction is Key
Something else to remember among your hockey players is that bonds and true team spirit can’t form if some players on the team are seen and/or treated as “outliers.”
As a coach, it is your job to make sure every player interacts with every other player. Whether you do this by pairing people up for drills differently each time or putting every player in the game on a rotation, you want to encourage everyone to work together and to get to know and respect everyone else.
This way, the whole team can come together as one and put the team above the individual and even above the “end goal” of a win.