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Buying In … A Critical Element for Successful Hockey Teams

This blog was written by an aspiring elite-level Goaltender Coach! Great things ahead for this BGA Educated individual in the Game of Hockey! 

Hi!

I’m Jared! I’ve been a goaltender coach for 5 years. After my minor hockey career ended a little over a year ago, I wanted to stay involved in the Game of Hockey and, more specifically, be part of a team. Luckily, an opportunity to be the Goaltender Coach for a Midget Tier 1 Team arose, and I took full advantage! I’m sure glad I did because I found a new appreciation for the Game of Hockey, and it ended up being an exceptional way to be part of a Provincial Championship-winning Team!

We’ve all heard the expression, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose … as long as you have fun.” Enjoying the Game of Hockey is crucial, but I always found the phrase a little ironic. To me, the most enjoyable part is winning … and I hate to lose whether I was a player or a coach. There is a huge difference in your mood after a game where the whole team comes together and works hard for a big win … and the sting of disappointment when you lose.

Many people who are competitive like me would probably agree with that statement. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret to get a team on their way to winning. A huge part of it is “buying in to what the coach is telling you.” This was the difference between the team I helped coach last year and the team I played on a few years ago.

I also played Midget Tier 1 a couple years ago, and talent-wise we were probably the best in our league and in the entire province. In the regular season, we lost 2 games … best record in the league. However, we still lost City Finals. Minutes before that game, some players were fooling around in the room before the biggest game of the season … I’m not referring to simple enjoyment … I mean outright fooling around with zero focus on the task-at-hand. It only took a couple of these unfocused teammates to take away most of the teams focus. The team, as a whole, did not give much respect to the coach, and many players thought it was ridiculous that the coach expected them to show up to every practice … may I remind you this was Midget Tier 1.

The team we played was a team that began the season as a Tier 2 Team, but they kept improving, working hard, and focusing on the team concepts … and in the end, they played a full 60 minutes to earn the win. We then blew another chance in Provincials when no one paid attention to the curfew that our Coach had set for us … many teammates were not well-rested for a day we had two games; we had lost all focus.

Fast Forward 1 Season Later: Same coach, same level, Provincial Championships! The team not only obeyed curfew and listened to the coach, but without being told to do it, watched our game footage from a couple of our previous games the night before one of our provincial games. I specifically remember on the bus going to Game 3 of the provincials … one of the players was sharing a story about lying in bed the night before and said, “It really hit me last night, we have a chance to win.”

I remember … that actually gave me chills!

I knew then that everyone was “buying in!” They wanted to win so badly. The 2017 Provincial Finals tournament is something I’ll never forget. Prior to the game, the team was in an entirely different “state of focus” from my previous team.

There was no fooling around before the game!

17 players were about to play their final Minor Hockey game knowing how important this opportunity meant for them. They were not going to blow it. We won 5-2, and finished the tournament 6-0-0 outscoring the opponent 36-8 in all the games combined.

From this wonderful Goaltender Coaching experience, I realized having a few quality leaders on the team is absolutely necessary … but leadership can’t just come from the Team Captains; it has to come from the entire team!

That is why “buying in” is a critical element for successful hockey teams!


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