Don’t think they don’t see the star player not coming back hard and backchecking
like you are demanding all the others do. Are you going to be on him or are you just
going to let it go hoping nobody noticed. Believe me, they all noticed, and will notice
how you will react to it. Will you lose their respect by saying nothing or will you gain
their respect by treating everyone the same and having the “courage” to stand up to your
star. It’s your choice.
Since they are all watching, why not use it as a coaching tool. Reinforce the
fundamentals of your system by pointing out the good or the bad things that happen on
the ice. “Look at Johnny – perfect position in our slot”, “Is Bobby where he should be? –
he’s too low”, or “see what happens when we put immediate pressure on the puck
carrier! “Another turnover and another scoring chance ”.
They are all sitting there in front of you, a captive audience if you will. Why not
use that fact to teach your system, praise good effort, discourage bad reactions, and show
you care about what’s going on out there. Use it to tell them what you want from them,
what pleases you and what displeases you. Because, if you are honest with them, their
first reaction in most cases is to want to please their coach.
It has been proven psychologically that the brain cannot interpret a negative.
Therefore you as a coach should never say “don’t pass it up the middle” or “don’t get
caught in” or “don’t be nervous. The brain visualizes the situation when it hears the
command and that image remains in their forebrain, i.e. it’s the main thing on their mind.
So, if the last thing you tell your defensemen before they go out for overtime is
“Don’t pass the puck up the middle”, you have put the image of passing a puck up the
middle on their sub-conscious mind. Under pressure what will they do? Pass the puck up
If there is any coaching rule that I have learned the hard way, it is this one. Less
than 2 minutes after being adamant about not doing something because we were short
handed, or in the last minute of the game, or whatever, has my player done exactly what I
had just insisted he not do to lose us the game. When the consequences are that dramatic
you search for the answer and try to find cause and effect.
You want your team to be tough and never back down, but you also want them to
have discipline and stay out of the confrontations that lead to needless penalties and
ejections. Attack the problem as a team. Have a system for helping our guy who has a
guy in his face wanting to fight him.
Whenever one of our players is “in trouble” with one of their players, we have to
get in there to help him out. The first guy moves between the 2 players and backs our
player away saying “he’s not worth it Johnny, he’s not worth it, let him go!” It allows our
player to be able to “stand his ground” and indicate he’s not scared of this monkey, but
not have to fight to prove it.
He can still be talking over our man’s shoulder and making out that he wants to
fight if he has to, without having to take a first punch in the face to prove he’s disciplined
and thinking about the team. Having more of our guys arrive on the scene in a hurry also
makes their guy a little less brave.
Don’t just hope your guys will get off to a good start – help them. Change your
lines especially fast in the first 5 to 8 minutes of the game. Use every whistle early in the
game for a line change so everyone of your guys gets a feel for the game as soon as
possible. The blood gets flowing and everybody is working on their second shift before
the 4 minute mark.
Another way you can help in the early stages of the game is to ask them to throw
the puck in and go get it hard everytime. The additional benefit is that the opposing
defencemen will start “cheating” to get back quickly. This will open up the neutral zone
and will allow your players to carry the puck in more easily after the first five minutes.
A. When your partner has the puck and is under pressure, he has to be able to rely on
you. Get open for him! Give him an outlet! Don’t be parallel to him so a bad
pass can be picked off. Move back closer to our net than him so he can pass it
back to you safely without being intercepted.
B. When he steps up on the puck carrier, you must be in a position to cover up for
him if he gets beaten. If he moves across into the middle of the ice and onto your
side, move back behind him and into the middle of the ice so you can handle a 2
on 1, or a 1on 1 if necessary. If he makes his move towards the boards on his
side, slide over more to his side and close the middle lane.
C. When he has a forechecker coming on him hard from behind on a dump-in to his
corner, you have to be his eyes and ears. YOU can see the whole play in front of
you, so you either
1. Call the play Go, Go, Go, You have room! Or Reverse it, Reverse it! Or
Stop behind the net! OR…
2. Run interference for him by stepping in the fore checkers’ way to slow
him down or make him change direction
A. Your defence partner-both of you should know where each other is on the ice at all
times. Let him know you are behind him or that you are open, or behind the net, or
B. Forwards on a back check or in defensive zone coverage. Defensemen have their backs
to our goal at all times and have the whole play in front of them; let the forwards know
who they should take, or who you are taking, or what they should do with the puck. Take
charge out there!
C. Your goaltender-let him know what he has to do (Freeze the puck-put it behind the netor
put it in the corner). He’s on your team. Help him out! Be his eyes!
Food for thought…
The Six Things Parents Should Say to their player (Before and After the Game)
By Bruce Brownlee (http://www.brucebrownlee.com)
A lot of hockey parents with good intentions give a 30 minute lecture, covering all the
players supposed deficiencies and giving playing advice, in the car on the way to each game. The
kids arrive far off their optimal mental state, and dreading the critique they are likely to hear,
whether they want it or not, on the way home. Kids who are massaged in this way tend not to
play badly, they just tend to not play, possibly to avoid making mistakes.
The easiest way to detect this problem is just to ask the player if it is a problem. Kids are
more than willing to share this grief. The easiest way to correct this problem is to speak to the
parents, as a group, about your expectations, and to cover this as a routine problem. Many of the
parents will recognize themselves if you can present this problem with humor and illustrate the
importance of the kids having fun and arriving in a good state of mind.
For best results, parents should memorize and use the following:
Before the Match : I love you. Good luck. Have fun.
After the Match : I love you. It was great to see you play. What would you like to eat?
1 on 1 rush-Protect the middle of the ice. Maintain the same speed as the approaching
puck carrier. Protect the inside zone-make the player skate through you to get to our net.
Look at opponent’s chest. Don’t focus on the puck. Don’t swipe at it or lung at it with
your stick. Keep your stick on the ice in front of you so it will be in the way of the puck
if he tries to come across in front of you.
B. In the corners-Take the body in order to control the man rather than to put him through
the end-boards. You have to stay on your feet and stay between him and your net. Try to
steer him toward the blue line, away from behind your net where he can use the net as a
screen. If he passes the puck, don’t follow the pass; stay with your man-don’t let him
beat you back to the front of our net.
C. In front of the net-You should have an eye on the puck at all times. NEVER get
tangled up with the opponent. Be in position (between your net and him) to move the
player to the outside of the slot or to move to the puck if you have to.
i. ALWAYS be in position to neutralize his stick. The stick is what puts the
puck in the net.
ii. NEVER shoot the puck away blindly! If you recover a loose puck, put it in
the corner or towards the sideboards, never towards the boards at the blue line.
Remember, the rebound belongs to the goalie…you are responsible for the
A. On the rush- Don’t stickhandle near their blue line (offensive zone). If you don’t have a
clear path into the zone, put the puck in the corner away from the goalie.
Our three forwards are all going in at full speed with you-if they poke the puck off you,
the opponents will be going 3 on 1 towards our goal.
B. At the point (offensive blue line)-When you are rushed, don’t have your shot
blocked. You are better off putting the puck in deep in the corner than hitting the forward
coming at you with a shot, giving him a possible breakaway. Take a wrist shot that gets
through and puts the puck in a dangerous position for them rather than giving them a
chance at a breakaway with none of our forwards ready to backcheck. Or make an easy
pass. Always play it safe!
C. Controlling the puck at the blue line-You scan through four (4) options before
shooting. You look across the ice:
1. for your defence partner
2. the slot
3. the front of the net
4. in the corner
DO NOT SHOOT WITHOUT LOOKING FIRST!
You are not supposed to score from the point but rather provide a chance for a deflection
or a rebound.
NEVER LEAVE THE FRONT OF THE NET…
Until your partner has returned from his or her corner and takes your place. The puck carrier,
now in your corner, can’t score unless he passes to somebody in the slot or comes out of the
corner through you to get to our net.
Buy time for your partner to return to his position. Then move out on the man in your corner
NEVER TRY TO DEKE WHEN YOU’RE LAST MAN BACK
Don’t try to stickhandle by anyone if you’re the last man back in your zone or the neutral
zone because you are the last man back. There’s no one to help you if you lose the puck.
The 7 times you get by the guy never gives our team a chance to score but the 3 times you
lose it always gives them a dangerous scoring opportunity!
Get it up to the forwards. Let them do their jobs.
Throwing it away blindly is never the right answer! If they intercept or recover your
blind pass you are a long way away from your mistake. You might not have time to
get to the guy with the puck before he does something to create a scoring chance. If
you make the guy take the puck off of you, you are right beside the man who now has
the puck and you can check him and try and get it back.
Tou have to have eye contact with your teammates before pasing them the puck. If
they’re not looking at you, don’t pass! Can’t pass? Keep the puck, protect it, you
have the puck, the opponent doesn’t. Don’t just give it to him; make them try to
take it off of you! At least he isn’t wide open.