Finding the Right Coach
Youth Hockey Coaching Philosophies
I've said in the past that when picking a program for your child to skate with, one of the more important things to take into account is the coach and, more specifically, their coaching philosophy.
From what I've taken in, there two main philosphies out there and they're not unique to hockey or anything but all youth sports, really.
They're "Play to Win" and "Play to Improve".
As awful as it is to say, let's just take the "We're just here to have fun" philosophy out of the equation. I think most parents can agree, things like participation trophies are a detriment to future society.
So, of course, everyone likes winning...but as I've said before, does winning really matter in youth hockey?
It essentially comes down to how you, the parent, define success.
If you want your child to be on a team that wins tournaments and ranks high on, ugh, MyHockeyRankings.com then the hardcore "play to win" style of coaching is definitely right up your alley and you'll very likely have near immediate success.
If you'd prefer your child to become a more skilled player, individually,
Coaches that emphasise skill development and make each player, individually, better are much, much, much different than the "win at all costs" coaches.
I look at it a lot like investing. Much like my own investment strategy, I waver back and forth far more often than I should.
Okay, constantly. I waver constantly.
Short term gains are awesome and super exciting -- that's winning.
But...at the same time, going long and having sustained gains year after year with limited risk is pretty awesome too. It's like totally passive income.
Hardly exciting but equally rewarding.
So, are you looking for short term results or sustained long term results? You have to answer that.
Another analogy would be the first Mighty Ducks movie.
Now, I know, it's a silly Disney movie with a fairy tale ending but, really, the coach of the Hawks is the "win first" coach and Coach Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is the "let's make each player better" coach.
Now, of course, the win first coach is going to dominate right out of the gate...
However, Disney movie or not, a team of kids getting better and better each month will eventually eclipse the talent and skill of the win first team that relies on just a handful of skilled players.
Probably not over the course of a single season like in the movie, but I can see it in two...a worst to first scenario.
Winning is awesome, yes, but for me, I'll take "getting better" over it every single time.
Remember, you don't want your kids to peak at ten years old.
In the end, whichever philosophy fits your personality, it comes down to having realistic expectations that "your" idea and the "coach's" idea of what success is are in line.
Far more enjoyable when everyone is on the same page.
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Agree? Disagree? Let me know -- I love the feedback from all angles!