An Uncomplicated Midseason Grading System For Hockey Coaches

Grading Hockey Coach Kelvin Cech Drills

Your players have been under the microscope for a few months now. Every pass, every shot, every practice, every game – every move they’ve made has been closely scrutinized by you and your staff.

It’s sufficient to say that the groundwork has been set. Well, you’ve got a second half of the season to worry about, and for your underperforming players, that means a second chance is in order. For your stronger players, a reminder about pushing their habits to new levels is also in order.

But none of that will happen without the guy with the whistle taking a good long look in the mirror first.

Measuring Up to Yourself

I always try to return to that which I can control and that which I can’t. Could I have controlled myself when my brain exploded in Prince George a few weeks ago and I hopped on the bus with a shiny two-game suspension in tow? No, I couldn’t, otherwise I would have kept my mouth shut.

But I got a lot of support from my players on that one.

Where you won’t get support is when you constantly lose control of your temper. That act wears out quickly.

So, looking back at the first half of the season, ask yourself:

  • Have you been operating on passion or logic?
  • Are you angry more often than you’re happy?
  • Can you tell when the time is right for positive support vs intensity?

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Measuring Up to Expectations

Is it possible to reach our expectations? Most coaches I know have a bit of a skewed sense of their team’s destiny in any given season.

But is that so bad? When you set your sights on the highest possible highs, then the inevitable lows that follow along are going to be much more devastating.

But I believe that’s what creates champions. You can’t be afraid to reach too high. Setting moderate expectations that are easily attainable are just that – easy.

And nothing good in hockey ever comes from an easy path.

So, looking back at your goals for the season, ask yourself:

  • What tangible actions are the players taking to achieve success? Listening? Working hard? Executing?
  • If you’re struggling, dig deep to find the answers – is this just who you are? Or is there something that could be done?
  • And finally, are the players getting better?

Well, Are They?

Everyone wants to win, but at every level – professional, junior, or the tyrannical confines of initiation hockey – the ultimate key to our game is getting better. It’s defined in a thousand different ways – some people think just shooting the puck harder in practice is a step in the right direction, and it definitely is, but having a good snapshot when there’s no goalie in net is only one small piece of the puzzle.

Hockey is a sport with an infinity of different options in every possible scenario. We’re still seeing new things happening every game and every practice.

But ultimately, this is the arena in which we’ll receive our final judgment at the end of the season: did the players improve?

And now’s as good a time as any to start talking about the answer..


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Kelvin is the Editor in Chief of The Coaches' Site and an assistant coach with the UBC Thunderbirds Men's Varsity hockey team.