Ice Hockey Coach

3 Uncontrollable Situations That Keep Hockey Coaches Awake at Night

In Leadership by Kelvin Cech

I brainstormed the headline for this post a few weeks ago not knowing how relevant it would become during the most difficult month of the year: September. Tryouts, a new team, your schedule – I’ve got a sneaking suspicion most coaches are dealing with the stress of trying to iron out your schedule. No, not just your team’s schedule, but your work schedule (particularly if you work full time in the hockey business), your family schedule, and your family’s schedule.

Here’s something I never thought I’d share with a thousand people all at once: I have a recurring nightmare about missing classes in University. I graduated six years ago, but for some reason I’m still haunted by phantom classes my subconscious thinks I missed.

These days I coach university hockey so I’m witnessing the difficulties of balancing an academic schedule with hockey from another perspective.

…I don’t have any answers here, but this post isn’t about answers. It’s about venting.

Besides your schedule, here are a few other things keeping coaches awake in the middle of the night instead of falling asleep so you can wake up at 5am for practice OH GOD WHY CAN’T I SLEEP.

Releases Gone Wild

Some day there will be a reality TV show about hockey tryouts in Canada. You heard it here first.

Minor hockey coaches constantly worry about making the right decisions on players in tryouts. If they don’t worry about it, then they don’t care enough. These are decisions that require conviction and a clear mind, but no matter what, the best minor hockey coaches weigh the attributes of bubble players carefully before they make the final call. Everyone has their own preferred method of making these choices, whether it’s taking your time or staying true to your initial instincts.

And once that release is made, then what? Who’s waiting for you in the parking lot? Scary stuff to consider in the middle of the night.

Inspire Connect Lead

Equipment Failure

No, this isn’t a euphemism. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the rink for a practice and realizing you forgot your whistle or whiteboard maker. I honestly worry about these things during the night, so when I arrive at the rink only to discover something is missing such as pucks or one of the kids, it only pushes me further over the edge.

What about your players? I like colours to be nice and organized during practices, so when players forget their practice jerseys or socks it drives me slightly insane.

Equipment and other small details that are well within a player or coach’s control should be a guarantee whenever you come to the rink, but we all now that this simply isn’t always a reality.


I’ve actually been able to rid myself of these thoughts in recent years. Why? Because losing a game isn’t within our control. You don’t know what the other team will do or how good their players will play. Of course you want to dictate the play, but where does that start?

When the puck drops?

Nope, it starts in practice. It starts in preseason. It starts in the speeches and presentations you give and the culture you demand every single day.

You don’t control whether you win or lose, so stop worrying about it. Start worrying about the effort and details you contribute every single day to make your team and your players as good as they can possibly be.

Focus on the short term process and before you know it you’ll be sleeping like a baby.

I’m going to take a nap.

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About the Author
Kelvin Cech

Kelvin Cech

Former editor in chief of The Coaches Site, current head coach of the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.


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