Being a youth hockey coach can be incredibly fun…but it can also be incredibly challenging and frustrating as well. Coaches often get upset when things don’t go as planned with a game, when players don’t use the skills they’ve been taught, or when a system they’ve worked hard on just doesn’t seem to be working.
While frustration is normal with any sport, youth hockey coaches can feel better and be more effective at their jobs if they remember a few key tips.
Celebrate the Good
First things first, all coaches are encouraged to celebrate the things their players do right and the things that go well. There’s so often a tendency to dwell on the negatives and on what needs improvement that the good often gets overlooked.
Don’t be that coach who’s so busy yelling at his players that you forget to praise them too. After each game, say a whole lot more about the good than the bad. Remember, these are kids you’re dealing with, and they thrive on praise and encouragement a whole lot more than criticism.
Keep it Simple
Another big tip is to keep systems as simple as possible. Even the most skilled young players are still young players. They’re often not good at remembering overly complex or difficult strategies.
Thus, remember who you’re dealing with and keep systems as simple as possible. It will save you and your players a whole lot of frustration and anxiety.
Don’t Set Your Expectations too High
As a final word of wisdom, coaches must keep their expectations in check when it comes to their young players. First, they have to make sure they are not projecting anything, like their own unfulfilled aspirations, onto their players’ shoulders.
Then, they also have to ensure they’re not setting the bar too high. This isn’t to say that coaches shouldn’t believe in or expect great things from their players, but they should keep their expectations within reason given the age of the children they’re dealing with.