Why it’s important to clearly define the cliches you use with your players

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is an assistant coach with the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League and is the founder of the Niagara Hockey Coaches Seminar.

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It's part of coaching the modern athlete.
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A lot has been made to do about “coaching the modern athlete.” Everything from their individuality, to their need for constant feedback; hundreds upon thousands of articles, books and presentations have covered the topic. Most of it revolves around one thing: communication.

So here’s a challenge to all coaches, everywhere: let’s all be more specific in our communication.

In terms of coaching, there isn’t much worse than a miscommunication or misunderstanding.

Here’s how it might sound. You say your team needs to compete harder, they think you’re saying they’re not trying. You say your team wants to play fast, they interpret that as skating 100 miles an hour accomplishing nothing. You say I need to read and react on the forecheck… I read it differently than you wanted… and now you’re the one reacting.

In order to connect with the modern athlete, the key is to communicate with linguistic intentionality. At the very least, define your buzz words at the start of the year so that when you refer to them later, everyone knows what you mean. Set a clear expectation and evoke specific imagery when you bring them up so everyone is on the same page. If you don’t, the consequences can be dire for your team.

Here’s are some examples.

“Heavy hockey”

Heavy hockey. What does that mean? Is it physical play? Fighting? Strong on pucks? Winning 1-on-1 battles? Strong on your stick? Stick lifts/steals? Cycling the puck below the goal line?

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