What it Takes to Succeed & How to Learn From Your Losses

Mike Pickles Road to Success Minor Hockey

Here we are back in full swing of another exciting hockey season. With much anticipation for victories, players will no doubt face adversities. I believe there’s always many lessons to be learned along the way. That’s what I love about sports, they teach kids things they’ll never learn in school. Sports are an incredible means to learning more than the just game.

Sport is an amazing platform for building life-skills that teach kids how to handle their wins and losses. But it’s not the just the sport itself, the coaches and parents have to be able to articulate to the kids how to understand what they are learning aside from the game. So at what cost do the wins come? And what kind of message are we sending to our players when they don’t win? These two questions will be the reason we dig into what success and failure really means and how we can help players persevere.

Let’s begin by putting things into perspective. In my years of experience as a strength coach my biggest role is literally in the form of teaching. Not just instructing how to perform exercises or coaching kids through their program, but teaching through communication. I encourage players to believe in their potential by challenging them to do things that they might not think they can do. I inspire players by telling stories and using examples of successes and failures in my own life.

It’s important to understand that with ‘coaching’ comes many responsibilities that not all trainers or on ice coaches really care about. Often their only focus is winning at all costs. And those who focus on winning at all cost forget to teach players the positive learning lessons they need. Losing is an important opportunity to teach and learn from. Coaches who cannot lead, communicate, or inspire are not serving their players or teaching them anything about how winning and losing are tools for building life-skills.

Coaching is not just leading a team to victories or through practice or through teaching systems. The role of a coach is learning how to get the most and best out of each individual player. With that comes the understanding of different personality types in order to motivate each player and the team as a whole. So at what cost is winning?

Well, I don’t believe it should cost players to feel down, quilt, shame, upset, punished, ridiculed, or disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about winning but not at that cost. I’ve known many coaches in the past who want to win more for themselves and their own reputation while taking it out on players when they don’t win. They have no business coaching if they don’t know how to relate to the player, especially in this new era of our young generation.

A great quote from Marc Crawford which inspired me to write this article goes like this, “This generation of players doesn’t take criticism when you’re giving it in a loud and vociferous way. All they see is rage and they won’t hear your explanation after.”

Watch Marc and Katie Crawford’s presentation at this year’s Hockey Coaches Conference in Toronto

To create a winning culture and to create a winning team you have to inspire players to want to win without the fear of making mistakes and getting yelled at for doing so. I believe every loss should be honoured and recognized as an opportunity to learn in order to get better. No one likes losing, but through every seed of adversity there’s something positive to come out of it. And I think with the right coaching, players can walk away feeling uplifted and more driven to win next time if the right message is sent.

Join me in Part 2 of this article next month where I go deeper into the meaning of success and failure and how to deal with both to your player’s advantage.

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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