Developing your identity and team play structure
Posted by Dean Holden at June 21st, 2013
by Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks Coach/GM
As a coach, if you are constantly asking, “Why aren’t they learning?” or “Why does he always do that? Doesn’t he get it?” The first place to look is at your coaching strategy because if there is no learning, there is no coaching taking place. Sometimes we get frustrated with our players’ progress, but we need to recognize those are the challenges of coaching. Don’t get caught in the cycle of looking at reasons why you can’t win. Instead, challenge yourself and your staff to find a way.
Even when you’re teaching professionals, never assume. It is often basic skills or teaching points within a system that separates the top players and teams. These players are motivated and willing to learn or develop in any area, which will help elevate their play or create longevity in their career. Show them a plan to be successful, work on developing it and stay strong when your plan is challenged. It’s not the particular system that wins championships; it’s all about quality of execution.
1. Developing your Trademarks/Identity
• This is the most important step – What type of team do you want to be?
• See the picture clearly.
• The template should be developed by the coaching staff with “guided” player input.
• Make sure your identity is clearly understood and reinforced (drills, meetings, media).
• If your team doesn’t know your identity, you are in trouble.
2. Training Camp
• The numbers at camp will present a challenge; be organized.
• Make sure your meetings have impact.
• Key time to teach, reinforce the identity and lay the foundation.
• Set the standard for younger players in your organization, or for players who may one day be a part of your team.
• Remember, different players learn through different mediums. Use all teaching aids available (chalk talk, video, observation, written handouts, on ice demonstrations).
• The balance between teaching and evaluating will depend on your time and numbers.
• The key to developing people is to “catch them doing something right” and the practice environment provides opportunities for this.
• Strive to achieve practice perfection (good habits).
• Coach the players to “think the game.”
• Be innovative when creating practices.
• Have a bank of drills to develop your identity and teach your systems play.
• As much as possible, use competitive drills for better effort, stronger focus and fun.
• Reinforce key teaching points within the system.
• Bank of 20-30 drills to develop skills; reinforce systems/trademarks/style of play.
• 80% repetition 20% new drills (repetition/variety…repetition/competition/fun).
• Have check marks to make sure learning is taking place.
4. Game Day
• Separating one game from the other. Create an angle/edge.
• Have consistency in scheduling your meetings, but use variety in voices, teaching aids and content.
• There should be a balance between preparing for the opponent and focusing on your play/preparation.
• Break down how teaching will take place on the bench, which coach is responsible for feedback and how much feedback or teaching you want.
5. One-on-One Instruction
• How to know when to raise the bar without screaming and yelling to get to the next level.
• It’s important to have a feel for when to push the players and when to let up.
• Subliminal coaching. Decide what you want from players and get them to do it every day without them knowing it.
• Challenges of teaching different types of players.
• Use of video to clarify points. Show constructive clips or show them doing it right and demand it be repeated.
• Problem of visually seeing negative or constructive clips over and over.
• Players watching video on their own (set up stations).
• Focus on personal development as well as skill development (provide opportunities for everyone to assume leadership roles).
6. Clarify Roles and Attach Personal Value
• It’s important that every team member and every staff member has a clear understanding of their role and how they fit into the big picture (vision).
• For staff, provide everyone with clear job descriptions outlining how they are to function in all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the team (include: meetings, practices, games, one-on-one instruction, use of video, pre-scouts, strength and conditioning, psychological prep, community work and media).
• They must feel they are an important cog in the wheel.
• Two factors that inhibit followership are (1) Leaders who expect followers to be mind readers and (2) No indication that they are needed.
• Once you delegate, make sure you allow them to complete the task without looking over their shoulder.
• Attempt to casually meet with individuals; find out what is important to them and take an interest in their personal lives.
• Constantly acknowledge and reward those in lesser roles.
7. Developing Accountability
• Your challenge is to get the players and staff to want to accept responsibility for their roles.
• Be willing to challenge the group and hold them to set standards.
• Posting stats, score system and coaches rating system.
• “Role of your leaders.”
• One-on-one player meetings.
“Take Time to Reinforce Life Lessons”