The last month has been a pretty crazy one for me. I accepted two jobs basically, one full-time with the Milwaukee Fire Department and the other is a part-time coaching position that I previously held, but with a new organization, the Milwaukee Blaze. These two things have consumed much of my time along with spending time with my son and girlfriend. So again, I apologize for being on a month hiatus, and appreciate the patience of my readership.
Considering it’s the start of the season, I really want to touch on five important things a coach needs to understand now that the season is underway. Most of these five things should already be involved in your daily routine; if they are not make sure you reconsider your coaching philosophy, strategy and presentation.
The first thing a coach needs to do is EVALUATE. Evaluate everything; your coaching staff, parents, players and association. If something appears out of line, find out why and address the problem immediately. Evaluate your players to see where they are at individually in comparison to last season and as a team. This will be crucial in gauging where your strengths and weaknesses are as a team and help you develop a strategy to enhance your strengths and build your weaknesses. Do not forget to evaluate yourself at the start of the season. Learn from your past mistakes and set some personal goals for yourself.
Going hand-in-hand with evaluate is COMMUNICATION. Once you have evaluated the pieces to your puzzle, make sure you express your thoughts, concerns, strategies and techniques with everyone. Make sure you communicate with your coaching staff so they understand the direction you intend to take your team. Communicate often with your parents and allow their input. Plan a team meeting early so all the questions can be answered and a communication medium is set. It goes without saying, but you should be in constant communication with your players. If something is going on outside of rink, it may be affecting their play. Get to the bottom of it by communicating effectively with them and you will have them at their peak performance in no time along with assisting them through obstacles that life may be throwing at them.
PLAN. Plan everything. You should not be showing up to the rink for a training session without a written plan of action. You should not be attending your parent meeting without an outline. You need to show up to the game with an idea of things you want your players to focus on and a lineup at minimum. Many volunteer and part-time coaches forget that they need to plan. Without planning, you are doing a major disservice to your players, parents and association. Take coaching seriously, because it is, and come prepared all the time.
Be FLEXIBLE. If something isn’t working, fix it. Change things up. Don’t be afraid to put players in different positions, run different lines, change up your training sessions, or even your delivery as a coach. Each year I try to watch a game that my team plays from the stands. It’s amazing how much clearer your teams strengths and weaknesses become when you aren’t actively coaching. The flexibility to allow my coaching staff to take over and not have complete control over the bench is more difficult to overcome than you would think. Whatever you do, remember to be flexible and go with the flow. Pounding a square peg into a round hole all season long does nothing but frustrate all those involved.
Lastly FOCUS. Not on yourself, but on the individual players and team. Do not get caught up in the limelight of thinking you’re the best coach in the world because your team had a winning year, won states, etc.. Focus on your players, the team and association. Focus on making those things better and you will forever be seen as a great coach. Wins, championships and trophies are only statistics. Character is what makes an average coach a great coach. Character is intangible. Focus on the appropriate things throughout the season and you will be respected and successful.
Again, the five things every coach needs to do at the start of the season are evaluate, communicate, plan, be flexible and focus. If you get these five things squared away right now, you will have a better chance of a fun, successful and smooth-sailing season.
Did I miss something a coach should be doing at the start of the season? If so, feel free to sound off in the comment section below!