Kyle Elmnendorf Positive Coaching Culture Ice Hockey Coach Tips and Drills

3 Things to Help Create a Positive Team Culture

In Culture, Leadership by Kyle Elmendorf

With the arrival of each new season comes new players, tests, challenges, triumph, and defeat. It’s part of what makes our job as coaches so exciting. Each season is a new challenge and opportunity. As coaches, a lot is thrown our way and it can be overwhelming at times. Head coaches have a lot of responsibility and many people looking to them for guidance and leadership.

As the new season approaches it’s important for coaches to exemplify the following three traits in order to effectively lead their programs.


“Whether you think you can or can’t; you’re right.”

First, coaches must be optimistic. What do you expect from the players and coaches in your program? What you demand; you’ll get. Great coaches radiate optimism because they believe in themselves and the ones they’re surrounded with. What you put out, you will receive in return. Optimistic leaders dream big, have unwavering belief, act intentionally, and gratefully receive the rewards along the journey.

It’s true some years will be better than others. If our sole goal is only winning on the scoreboard, we are in for a lifetime of frustration. However, if our goal is to develop tomorrow’s leaders, men and women of character, there’s a need for optimism. Talent level will vary, but as coaches we can always control our optimism.

Optimism and negativity cannot coexist. Which one will you allow to take up the most space in your head? Great coaches and leaders are optimists who believe in the mission and their team!

Inspire Connect Lead

“Lack of communication leads to a lack of trust that leaves room for doubt.”

Secondly, coaches must communicate clearly. Are your coaches and players on the same page? Most of us will agree communication is key, but how intentional are we with our communication. It’s important as coaches our communication is clear and concise. Often good communication is mistaken for wordy, lengthy explanations. The best communicators are able to share information in a bite-size, easy to digest manner. “Less is more” is true when it comes to the amount time talking in order to communicate a message.

When communicating to our fellow coaches and players, coaches must focus on the value they’re providing first. Again, it’s not quantity; it’s quality. The best coaches in the world are able to deliver an effective message or instructions in a few short words. When communicating it’s critical to appear confident in the message being delivered. Successful coaches are intentional with their eye contact. They listen to all they interact with through solid eye contact. Great coaches communicate through body language, posture, and embraces. Players don’t care about what you know until they know you care. Having great body language and giving each player a daily embrace will go a long way in establishing the trust effective communication needs.


“It’s impossible to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”

Lastly, coaches must have contagious enthusiasm. If you’re not fired up to be there everyday, how can you expect your players to be so. Great coaches don’t just approach the game day with enthusiasm, they approach every workout and practice with high enthusiasm. Winning programs have a winning culture, and it starts with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious and each practice should start with it. A great concept to incorporate into your program would be to designate a coach as your “energy or hype” coach, and assign players to serve as daily “enthusiasm captains.”

The game we got to play and now get to coach has brought so much joy to our lives. On the days where our enthusiasm may be lacking a little, find gratitude within the game and players you coach. Once you feel gratitude your enthusiasm will begin to rise. Momentum is real and it’s a powerful force within sports, and it begins with enthusiasm. Coaches, it’s important to celebrate the little things on a daily basis throughout the season. Doing so will help you maintain a high enthusiasm level for your program for the duration of your season. Lastly, be sure to always model the behaviors you want from your players. Great coaches don’t expect their players to behave in a manner they’re not willing to model. Remember, as the coach, it starts and ends with you. If you want an enthusiastic culture, you must bring your enthusiasm daily.


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TCS|Members Ice Hockey Coach Tips and Drills Todd Woodcroft

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About the Author
Kyle Elmendorf

Kyle Elmendorf

Kyle Elmendorf is an educator, coach, speaker, and writer. He currently resides near St. Louis and is the proud father to two young sons, and the loving husband to his beautiful wife, Angela. Coach Elmendorf also serves as the director of business development for Lead 'Em Up (, a company who's drills and excersises help build the leaders needed to win. His passion lies in building champions on and off the playing field. Sports are a vehicle to teach life lessons and build leadership skills, but only if done so intentionally. Coach Elmendorf has made it his life's mission to build character and leadership through sport in order to build a better future for our world. Oustide of his career, Coach Elmendorf loves to travel, be active outdoors, read, and spend time with his family. He writes a regular blog which can be found at and his articles have been featured in NFHS Coaching Today, The 9s Magazine, Ignite Magazine, and High School Today.


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