Monday, March 11, 2013

This Game We Coach and Play

There is a passion amongst hockey players unlike any other I've ever seen or played.  It's different.  It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't played it or been around it. As much as we want to tell the kids go out and play for fun, it's so much more than that.

It's not just a game.  

Don't get me wrong. Hockey is FUN. But it's an emotional game too.  A lot of work goes into playing the sport.  You are committed or you don't play.  It's just not an easy sport that you get dropped off with a ball and they run around for a while.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes skill.  It takes commitment. It takes passion.  You don't need motivation.  Being a part of it all is motivation enough.

I coached a team of 9-11 year old boys this year.  They were undefeated to this point of the season and playing their biggest rival and the #2 team in the Division.  45 minutes of hard fought play and they were victorious.  They battled from the moment they started and never quit.  I was proud beyond belief.  In the locker room after, they cheered and celebrated and 5 minutes later most sat on the bench and just hung out.  Not too many words were said, but none were really needed.   They all got it.

On the car ride home, my wife asked why he wasn't more pumped up about the huge victory and how well the team had done.  Plain and simple, he had nothing left to give.  It was all on the rink.

Whether you coach, play or are just a fan, you feel it.  There is no casual hockey player, coach or parent.  It takes too much from you, but it gives back so much more.  That passion spills to other places to.  Like the Bench.  And the Stands.

As coaches, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and the bad calls or the mistakes the players make.  Coaches, you need to remember that players feed off of your emotions and more importantly, your actions.  If you are calm, they are calm.  If you are yelling, they are tense.  Think about it.  Control your emotions.  Coach your players and the game will work itself out.

Parents, same with you.  It's very easy to get wrapped up in the moment because we all want to win.  We all feel that emotion and passion that our players bring to the rink.  So as you are in the stands, while it makes you feel better to yell at the refs (believe me, I'm guilty of this too), think about being in their position and taking it all in at full speed with no vested interested in the game.  Be encouraging to your players.  Remember, when you are calm, they are calm.  When you start coaching them and telling them how big of a game this is, they get tense. Leave that to them, they know how big it is. Let them play.

Embrace the passion. Embrace the emotion. Play, Coach or be a Fan of Hockey, you won't be sorry.

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