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Coaching Your Team Down the Home Stretch

By Mike Butters, 01/23/20, 9:00AM PST


The Holiday season has come and gone and with it comes what many in the game call “the Home Stretch.” It’s that time of the year when you start thinking about how far you’ve come with your team and how much you still need to cover prior to your playoffs or season ending tournaments. Many coaches plan their season well in advance and have a plan as to how far they want they want to take their team, from a learning curve. Many inexperienced coaches look at this time to “cram” any unfinished lesson plans into their practice curriculum. This mistake can do more harm than good when it comes to coaching teams at any age level and abilities.

I akin teams to show dogs. Imagine teaching your dogs some tricks to get ready for competition. You have an idea to teach them 10 tricks by the time of the event, only to realize your prize retriever has 8 of his tricks down solid but you haven’t started to teach him those last 2. This is where the decision comes in. Do you teach him the new tricks with only days to go, hoping he will get it or focus on reinforcing what he already knows? If you guessed the latter, you may be headed for a career in dog training. Either way, your coaching chops will solidify.

The same applies to your team. Good coaches have a keen sense when a skill, technique or concept is mastered before moving on to the next one. Further, he/she knows how much time it will take for a team or player to grasp what you are teaching. It is why this coach recommends you focus on firming up the skills you’ve taught them and reinforcing them with the goal of mastery in mind. Players advance and learn at different levels, as do the teams they play on. With the season coming to an end fairly quickly, it is time to really bear down on what you have taught and work towards success on those things. Remember, players return next year and teams are reformed. You can write down what they’ve learned and it may serve as a good starting point for next year.

I want to stress that this message isn’t suggesting you abandon any new teachings. It is good to always introduce new concepts and techniques. However, your expectations of ultimate success of new ideas at this time, should be assessed cautiously. Firm up your plan and stick to it. Your team will feel good about their ability to completely understand what has been taught this year and their confidence will be evident as you strive for season ending success.

See you around the rink.

Mike Butters
Sno-King Coaching Coordinator