“You can’t be common, because a common man goes nowhere. You have to be uncommon.”
-Herb Brooks USA Hockey Coach 1980
Being a hockey coach can be an amazing and fulfilling experience. However, it can also be a very stressful and difficult experience.
Coaches are required to lead the team strategy, work the bench during games, be the motivator, hand out discipline, and be the family counsellor when needed. These are just some of the many roles required of them. Add into the mix, the high outcome performance expectations for their team’s and individual players, that high stress is often the result.
High stress takes it toll on coaches. It distracts them from performing at their best just as it also affects their players. The ability for a coach to be grounded and present in the moment is essential for any team’s success. The more stress a coach reacts to, the more likely he is to coach from a fear perspective rather than trust. When this happens, he may show up as controlling, yelling, and frustrated with his players. Although, this type of leadership may have a short term positive effect, in long term he may end up “losing the room” because his players will begin to tune him out. It’s no wonder that on some teams the coaching position can become like a revolving door.
The following are six things a coach can remember to help them perform at their best by keeping grounded in the present moment:
- Don’t take things personal
- Be aware
- Let things go
- Focus on the process
- Be real
- Trust the process
Don’t take things personal. When a coach can keep from taking things personal, it will help him manage his anger, resentment and disappointments that will affect his ability to access his skills and talents. Not taking things personal will also help him in accessing his creativity and intuition, necessary to making conscious, confident choices.
Be aware. A person’s truth is not the truth. It is filtered through the life experiences, beliefs and judgments they may have about life. Be aware that there may be other ways of looking at a situation that may better serve the team.
Let things go. It is what it is. Acceptance is not surrender. It is accepting a moment as it is, or was, and letting it go. It is the knowing that life happens and that is just the way things go sometimes. The opportunity for learning and adaption exist in any given moment but only if true acceptance is present.
Focus on the process. Outcome performance focus can add unnecessary stress to a coach and filter down to his players. Having a one shift, one period, one game at a time focus will keep a coach and his players locked in to the present moment. Mastery of the process is the foundation for great outcome performances.
Be Real. A coach is not who a person is, it’s what they do. When a coach can bring their authentic selves to the role, their effectiveness will increase in their dynamic communication, connection to their players and other support staff. They will bring themselves to every interaction and inspire others to do the same.
Trust the process. Taking a group of players and helping them become effective as a team is a process. It will have its ebbs and flows. Although, at the beginning of a season it may seem like a struggle to get everyone on the same page, trust that it will all come together.
Many coaches may know the above six things but can easily forget them when they find themselves in high stress situations. The ability to remember and put these six things into practice will lead them to an amazing and fulfilling experience as a hockey coach.
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