With the end of the season upon us, some teams have succeeding in meeting and exceeding their goals, while others may have fallen short. In previous blog posts and in some of my ebooks I talk about setting goals. Goal setting is an important thing for all parties involved in the sport of hockey, including the parents. Players and coaches should have their own goals and objectives. At the end of each season, they should be honestly evaluated and improved upon for the next season.
This is a list of the five things coaches should evaluate at the end of every season:
- Was I more interested in the wins and losses or the development of my players? Answer honestly. Be objective. Depending on what level you are coaching wins and losses could mean you keeping your job or getting fired. For the majority of coaches however, they should be more interested in the skill development of each and every player. This includes the top three along with the bottom three. Don’t feel satisfied improving only some of your players. If each player did not improve ask yourself why. Take it personally, to an extent, and reflect on things you could have done better. Maybe the practices were too focused on systems. Maybe you didn’t challenge your top players. Perhaps your bottom level talent was too often placed in difficult drills. Whatever the case, determine what you were more interested in, figure out if that was your initial vision for the season, and if it wasn’t, adapt and overcome. Remember coaching is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Were you honest with yourself, your players, your coaching staff and your parents? Did you have a set vision in mind? Did you detail this to all parties involved? Most importantly did everyone acknowledge and understand your vision? Was your vision in line with that of the association and defined by proper morals and ethics?
- Did you come to the rink prepared on a daily basis? Did you put in the effort to make practice plans that focused on team and individual development? Did you run the same drills over and over again? How was your bench management during games? Did you use your coaching staff to the best of their abilities? Did you rely on them too much? Too little? If you are not coming prepared to practice and games, it is difficult to expect the same from your players, parents and coaching staff.
- How did you treat the members of the team? This includes everyone from association representatives to referees. Were you honest with your parents, players and coaches? Did you command respect from them? Did you respect them? Did you instill not only hockey skills in your players, but also life skills? I find it imperative that a coach visualizes themselves as a bedrock of society. Regardless of sport, a coach is a mentor, a leader. Did you fulfill this obligation? Did you speak up for your players, coaches and parents? Were you a pushover? Your personality has to be a stern, but caring one. You cannot let people walk all over you, yet at the same time you have to be willing to play the cards you are dealt and handle any circumstances that arise during a season.
- How was your performance as a coach, a mentor, a leader? Did you improve as the season progressed or did you regress? Were you set in your ways, or were you open to change? What are your plans for the off-season and next season? Do you still have what it takes to coach? Do you still want to coach? Is there a burning desire to continue coaching? Were you at an appropriate age level? Did you coach the appropriate skill level? These are hard questions, but need to be answered. Once again, be honest with yourself. If you are lying to yourself, if you are underqualified for a position, you need to re-evaluate yourself and make the changes necessary.
These are all some very tough and difficult questions that every coach must face and must answer. Analyze this more than once during the off-season. Most importantly take the time to understand your roles and responsibilities before committing to another season.
Coaching, regardless of level, should not be taken lightly. As I have stated before and will state once again, you are an important part of the system. Not just the system of hockey, or of a team, but of life. Your players, coaches and parents expect you to guide them. Take a moment and do everyone a favor by answering these questions. In the end, it will not only make you better, but it will make the people around you better and will progress this great sport.