Mentors. Teachers. Role models. Being a hockey coach is a great responsibility, one that requires all three of the aforementioned traits as well as dedication and leadership.
On Sunday, October 30th, USA Hockey & the Pittsburgh Penguins hosted Coaching Certification Classes at the CONSOL Energy Center to give current and prospective coaches the opportunity to expand their knowledge in an interactive classroom setting. The certification session taught coaches not only skills and drills, but also the role of the coach, safety issues and how to properly interact with players, parents, and officials.
“It’s important to teach proper lessons that sports are supposed to teach, like discipline,” USA Hockey’s Charles Burke said. “This is in addition to X’s and O’s.”
Tom Platt of USA Hockey shares Burke’s belief that coaches are teachers.
Platt has his coaches partake in several activities. In one activity, the coaches individually draw a circle with the head side of a penny from memory.
“Many can’t recall the details even though they see it everyday,” Platt said.
The goal is to get coaches to understand that even if they were good hockey players this does not necessarily mean they will be good coaches. A good coach can communicate effectively. This point was stressed throughout the day. Several coaches such as Jeff Brungo of the Arctic Foxes noted its importance.
“You have to get your point across to the kids,” Brungo said.
Platt worked with his coaches on how to effectively communicate. He had a volunteer read to the rest of the room directions on how to draw a particular shape. When the volunteer finished reading, only a handful of coaches drew the shape correctly.
“The message you send out isn’t always what you think it is,” Rob McNaughton, coach for the RMU Little Colonials, said.
Along with communication, coaches were also taught leadership style, player safety, planning and skill analysis and development.
While it isn’t necessary to have experience playing hockey to be a coach, both Burke and Platt say that it helps.
“If you did not play the sport before, it is a disadvantage,” Burke said. “It can be done, but it’s a lot more challenging.”
Platt added his own input.
“Experience absolutely helps, but that shouldn’t scare people away,” he said. “A lot of athletic people can help kids.”
USA Hockey has developed tools with instruction videos that break skills down. These skills can be reviewed, practiced, and then used to teach players.
Teachers. Leaders. These are a few things that make up a good coach. In fact, leadership is what Burke says will help grow the sport.
“The energy is very positive due to the expert curriculum USA Hockey has assembled,” Burke said. “At the end of the day, the reaction is usually overwhelmingly positive.”