What Makes a Great Coach?
The differences between a good coach and a great one may be subtle, but they can make a world of difference to players. While knowledge of the game, ability to demonstrate drills and organizational skills are important, here are five traits that separate the best from the rest.
Humility – Every coach wants to win games, but not at the expense of skill development. Great coaches realize it’s about the team, not the man behind the bench. The best coaches don’t measure their success by their trophy case, but by the smiles on their players’ faces, their improvement on the ice and their passion for the game.
Compassion – Great coaches take the time to get to know their players, on and off the ice. If the coach makes the effort to listen, understand and treat players with respect, they will return the favor. Great coaches know that their team is only as strong as its weakest player and works hard to give every player the chance to improve his or her skills.
Communication – A coach can have all the technical knowledge
in the world but if he can’t communicate and teach effectively, the knowledge is useless. Clear communication stems from realizing how each player learns and tailoring the information to reach its intended target. The best coaches are able to deliver criticism and praise in a way that players will take to heart.
Passion – When a coach has a passion for the game and the team, it makes the experience a positive one for everyone involved. Excitement for the game and improvement is contagious, and if the coach has it the whole team will catch it. However, the same goes for negativity. If a coach acts up on the bench, there’s a good chance his players will do likewise on the ice. The apple, as they say, never falls far from the tree.
Leadership – Great coaches give their teams direction and motivation to help them to reach their goals. They have a plan, are organized and find a way to encourage their teams to believe and work together. The best coaches are those that will lead an enthusiastic, excelling, growing team by personal example.
Coach of the Month
Greg Hutcheson has his sons, Evan, 11, Ryan, 7, and Lukas, 5, to thank for getting him bit by the coaching bug.
Hutcheson, a major in the U.S. Army, never played youth hockey growing up, but learned the game by helping out at one of his sons’ practices. When Evan’s Peewee AA team, the Junior Hurricanes, expanded last winter and needed an assistant coach, Hutcheson jumped at the chance to put what he learned to the test.
This past spring Hutcheson coached Raleigh Youth Hockey’s Mite team, and will serve as assistant coach for the Ft. Bragg mini-Mites and head coach for the Fayetteville Fire Antz Mites for the 2009-10 season.
“I just enjoy being involved and watching the kids get better,” he says. “I feel like I’ve been blessed with a unique ability to get the best out of kids through sports.”
Hutcheson says his biggest challenge this season will be to help grow youth hockey at the Mite level in Fayetteville, N.C.
He has found time to play as well, weaving lunchtime hockey into his day job as an optometrist at Fort Bragg’s Robinson Health Clinic.
The Liberty Mutual Responsible Sports program supports volunteer coaches and parents. A proud sponsor of USA Hockey.
You Make The Call
Question: A goalkeeper is assessed a major penalty in addition to a game misconduct. Can the goalkeeper’s team wait to place a substitute player in the penalty box to serve the penalty?
Answer: No. The 2009 rule change now allows a team to wait before putting a substitute player in the penalty box when a player receives a major and a game misconduct. However, this rule does not apply to goalkeeper penalties. All goalkeeper penalties must be immediately substituted for.