The politics of girls’ hockey
Posted by Dean Holden at August 22nd, 2013
by Kim McCullough, M.Sc, YCS, 16 April 2013
“Politics” of hockey are about to wreak havoc on all of us. Impending tryouts take all of our stress levels through the roof. We’re all worried that we might make the wrong choice, that what people are telling us is not the truth and that we won’t end up with the team we’d hoped for. The truth is we’re all in the same boat as players, parents and coaches.
As a coach, I want to create the best possible environment for our players and team to succeed next season and I’m putting in a lot of work to ensure that this is the reality. This is really no different than parents and players doing their homework about different teams and organizations to make sure they find the best “fit” possible for them.
After all, us coaches don’t want to make a mistake either. We know we are going to have to make tough decisions. We will have to cut players who just don’t fit as pieces in our team puzzle. We are going to have to tell some kids, “No,” which is something that never gets easier to do.
It’s not just about reducing numbers – it’s about making decisions that temporarily short circuit the dreams of players. I know I don’t take making decisions like that lightly. As coaches, we often have to cut good players because we feel there was another player that was better for a particular role or position on the team. We are looking for the 17 players that make up the best team, not necessarily the 17 best players.
Putting together a team is a game of numbers, of roles, of needs and of responsibilities. When someone doesn’t make it, they initially feel hurt or even angry. There is no getting around the emptiness, rejection and even embarrassment. That’s understandable. I’ve been there my fair share of times as a player and it never gets any easier to hear “No.” But it’s not getting cut from a team that matters, it’s what you do next that defines you as a player and person.
• Do you use that as a source of motivation to drive you to become an even better player who would make that team (or an even better team) in the future?
• Or do you make excuses and point fingers that bring other players down?
As tough as it is as a coach to make cuts, it’s a lot tougher on the player and her parents. What isn’t constructive is making excuses for your child by saying it was a political decision or that the coach made the wrong decision (which might even be the case). If you make excuses, you are only teaching your daughter to deflect responsibility and discount the abilities of others.
I can assure you that as coaches, we are trying to get it right. It’s very very hard to try to figure out the best combination of players. If there are 17 players on a team, odds are the practically every coach would agree on the top 8 or 9 players for the team. And most coaches will agree on the next 4 or 5 that should be on the team. But picking those last 4 or 5 players to fill out the roster is tough – and more often than not the coaches don’t all agree. That’s when our job is the hardest and that’s when feelings get hurt.
So as we head into provincial championship weekend and the harsh reality of tryouts looms over everyone’s heads, I wanted to share eight motivational sayings that help keep me on track for success both on and off the ice. I hope that they inspire you as we head into the hardest part of the year.
1. Focus on what you can control.
2. Live your life like most people do and you’re going to settle for what most people get. If you want more, you have to do more.
3. ‘Trying’ isn’t enough. It’s an excuse. Either you’re doing something or you’re not.
4. You never fail until you quit, make excuses or die.
5. Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create an opportunity.
6. Focus on getting 1 percent better each day. Small improvements add up.
7. Failure is part of the process. Accept it. Learn from it. Move on.
8. If you’re waiting for circumstances to be different (or perfect), you’re in for a long wait. Stop waiting and start doing.
Please pass this along to anyone you know who might benefit from hearing this message going into this hectic time of the year.
To get complete access to articles, videos and secrets that addresses the specific needs of female hockey players, visit www.totalfemalehockey.com. Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is an expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players. She is a former NCAA Division I captain at Dartmouth and played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years. She is currently the Girls Hockey Director at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto and is the Founder of Total Female Hockey.