Approaching the new year with a fresh mindset can help improve a player or coach
Players can re-evaluate how they’ve played in the first half of the season and set goals on how to make the rest of the season a success.
AHAI Coach-In-Chief Jim Clare has some direction players can take.
First, Clare stresses players should figure out how to be the best teammate they can be. Encourage teammates and work together in the locker room and on and off the ice. Just be supportive regardless of the player’s stature on the team.
“All the personal accolades are great, but if you’re the only one taking the puck up and down the ice, that’s nice but it’s not going to make your team better and at the end of the day it’s not going to help you achieve any of the team goals you want,” Clare said. “It has to be team first and then the individual.”
The second resolution is players should work on being coachable — be willing to take instruction from head and assistant coaches.
“Apply it and listen to what they are telling you,” Clare said. “Hopefully, that makes you a better player.”
Third is maintain respect for the game, players from other teams, referees and coaches.
“Treat others on the ice and off the ice, quite frankly, how you’d want to be treated,” Clare said. “How do you talk on the ice? How do you react to certain things on the ice? Do it with respect and keep your composure.”
A fourth resolution is a player should take responsibility for their own development, especially at the 12-15U age groups. Clare stressed it’s not always on the head coach and the assistants to take on that role.
“Whether it’s doing some extra things at home — taking a thousand shots a week or set up a net at the house or do some off-ice things that you can do to help your own development,” Clare said.
From a coaching perspective, the new year is a good time to assess where they are at as a coach and what direction their team is heading.
“Take a good look at it and be honest with yourself and say, here’s where we’re at and here are the things I can do in the next two or three months to help them improve and get better as players and as people,” Clare said.
Hockey parents can also take a moment to reflect and set resolutions. Clare said parents should respect the game and enjoy every moment of their kid’s hockey experience, because it goes by fast.
“Your kids aren’t always going to be playing hockey, you’re not always going to be at the rink to cheer them on, so when you’re there, make it a positive experience,” Clare said. “Respect the other parents, the coaches, the referees and the other players. You’re cheering for your team, but you’re doing it the right way, that you don’t get too wrapped up in the wins and losses.”
Clare suggests that a good age for boys’ players to start setting resolutions is when they hit the teenage years. Clare said at about 13 years old, kids should have a good idea about how they feel about their game and how they can improve. For girls, at the 14, 16, 18 and 19U ages is a prime time for goal-setting.
Coaches can approach helping players set resolutions in a number of different ways. Setting aside 10 to 15 minutes per kid with their parents either before or after practice or during a team building event such as a pizza party or bowling social is a good idea.
With the new year marking about the midway point of a season, players can assess what they want to accomplish moving forward.
“It’s a perfect time to sit down with the kids individually as a coach, with the assistant coaches and even with their parents, if you want — especially the younger ones — and just assess their game and help them make some resolutions and goals that they want to set for the second half of the season,” Clare said. “Do that with your coach. Coaches can give some suggestions, but let the kids come up with their own thoughts and ideas. Don’t give them the answers to the test. Let them figure things out and be honest with their game and where they think they’re at.”
How important are setting resolutions for young hockey players?
“I think it’s important for them to understand and to be open to coaching,” Clare said. “It’s important that they have some type of goal, and the goal isn’t always a championship.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.