How To Understand What Makes Your Player Tick

Mike Pickles Understanding Players Ice Hockey Coach Tips and Drills

Have you ever struggled trying to get your player(s) to do the little things you know that can help them be successful? I’m not just talking about helping them be better on the ice but also in school and around the house (like doing simple chores for mom or dad).

Every year I have parents ask me how I do what I do to inspire and motivate their player to do the little things that matter when they themselves struggle to get that message across. And while I always back up parents when it comes to telling players that they are right, somehow their preaching continues to fall on deaf ears with their players. So why do players listen to me? First let me share a couple stories with you.

A hockey mom comes to pick up her son after a dryland session and once he is in the car she quietly asks me, “What do you say to my son?” and “How do you do what you do?” At first I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, so I replied, “What do you mean exactly?” She went on to say, “Well, when I went to his room to wish him goodnight he was doing your stretching program and he had cleaned his entire room. I then found him the next morning making his own lunch and telling me what kind of groceries I need to buy because Mike said he needed to eat more fruits and vegetables.”

This hockey mom was completely dumbfounded by how I was able to instil such motivation into her son after she had been trying to get him to do these things for years. I have other endless stories of parents asking if I can talk to their player and try to figure out what they are thinking. In some cases parents have even told me that their player had thought of giving up, and after a casual chat during one training session I was able to convince those kids to keep playing.

Inspire Connect Lead

Parents continue to struggle to understand what their kids are thinking because some kids don’t share their thoughts, and it leaves parents wondering why. If you can relate to a conversation that looks like the following, keep reading….

Parent: How was your day?                                          Player: Fine

Parent: What did you do at school today?                   Player: Nothing

Parent: Can you clean your room?                             Player: Later

Parents can’t believe how on earth I get them to either change their minds or challenge them to do things they know they should be doing to be successful. 

Well here’s the secret, are you ready for it?

1.   First, I LISTEN to them and don’t judge them.

2.   Second, I don’t tell them what they should do. I tell them what “I WOULD DO.”

3.   Third, I invoke MEANING behind their wants, needs and desires.

4.   Fourth, I let them know I UNDERSTAND how they feel.

It’s as simple as that! Kids need to feel safe to be themselves and make mistakes. For more tips on how to get your player motivated on and off the ice check out my new Success Strategy Handbook. It’s a FREE step by step guide to increasing personal performance on and off the ice for every minor hockey player. It includes a 24 week program with easy to complete worksheets for your player to track not only their on and off ice progress, but their school work and family contributions too. To get your copy today simply click on the link below and watch your player achieve massive success and have the most incredible year ever.


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Mike Pickles, D.FHP
Hockey Strength Training Specialist

Mike is the Founder of DrylandHockeyTraining.com and Creator of Explosive Hockey Speed. He’s the #1 Provider in the South Surrey area of British Columbia for specializing in off-ice hockey development year round. Mike trains elite players at the Major Midget and Junior level preparing them for the WHL and NCAA. Mike has also presented for BC Hockey’s Elite prospects on High Performance Training and Nutrition, and helps with the WHL Combine testing for the Okanagan Hockey Group

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