Leadership Lab: Hockey Coaching Goals for 2023

Leadership Lab - Hockey Coaching Goals for 2023
Challenge yourself to set a bold goal for your growth in 2023.

Now, I want to take a jab at some coaches with this post.

The jab that I want to take is based on the fact that, in your quest to become a better coach, most of you want and are seeking mere drills, or systems videos, or are only making decisions based on numbers or analytics. You are just focusing on the X’s and O’s.

Although I agree they are important things to continue to grow and learn about, I will contend with every fiber of my being that your growth, development, and success as a coach in the future is dependent on your ability to become a better leader, a better communicator, a better relationship builder, a better teacher, a better mentor, and a better advisor; in other words, you have to, go beyond the X’s and O’s.

“We become leaders the day we decide to help people grow, not just the numbers.” – This quote from marketing and leadership expert, Simon Sinek, hits the nail on the head.

With the democratization of information, the players you coach today have access to, and know, most of what you will come up with in a drill, or how you want to forecheck, or your PP breakout, etc. due to social media, YouTube, Hudl, and InStat. Yet, as coaches you keep going to that well, and so does everyone else.

So, what will be your separator as a coach in 2023? If you keep doing what you have always done, you are going to keep getting what you always have gotten, and that is akin to a cat chasing its tail, because you are relying on what everyone else is doing.

For your players, what is not clear is how you are going to make them a better player, person and teammate, which for me is the very essence and enjoyment of coaching. They need to see themselves being far better in the future than they are in the present moment.

Psychologists have said the human condition is biased in WANTING to go on a journey, a vision, or a quest. The best coaches are the best at casting this vision for his/her players, and then inviting their players to join him/her on that quest. This is how a great team CULTURE is created.

In 1960, at his Presidential Inauguration, John F. Kennedy stated, very boldly, that by the end of the decade he wanted to have the USA be the first to have a man walk on the moon. Now, this was a huge proclamation, and one that made a lot of people cringe, because they may have felt that it was impossible.

The story goes that when JFK was visiting NASA in Houston, people were becoming concerned that not everyone was embracing his vision. While there, he ran into a gentleman with a NASA uniform on. The President asked him what he did there? His response gave JFK the steely resolve of knowing that his bold proclamation was taking hold. The man’s response was that “he was helping put a man on the moon.” When Kennedy asked more specifically what he did, the man told him he is a caretaker in the cafeteria.

I illustrate this story because the coach who can articulate, convey and be intentional on a daily basis with their vision for a player and a team, will be the successful coach. As you are heading into the new year, I challenge each of you to be able to get your team to buy into a bolder vision for the group. Each player must feel they are a part of it, just like the caretaker at NASA.

Your ability to reach your players in new ways, your ability to communicate with your players in new ways, will help them latch on to what is truly possible.

So instead of reaching for new drills, reach for the new book on leadership, coaching or culture building. Reach out to a mentor, a consultant, to help you reach for a greater vision for yourself as a person, and a leader. Go beyond the X’s and O’s with your coaching. Ultimately, challenge yourself to set a bold goal for your growth in 2023. Be unreasonable in your approach…BE OUTSTANDING!!!

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Chris De Piero

Chris is a Senior High-Performance Coach and has spent the past 30+ years in the game of hockey as a player, Head Coach, General Manager, scout, mentor, consultant and most importantly as a parent. He has done so in the NHL, with Hockey Canada, in the OHL and the OHA, as well as European pro hockey. In addition, he has spent 15+ years as a classroom teacher as well as being in leadership positions as an administrator with a private high school in Toronto.

Chris has coached over 100 players who have played and/or been drafted into the NHL, and 100+ players who have gone on to play NCAA or USport hockey. He has won multiple championships as a Head Coach and GM, notably winning a Stanley Cup ring from being a member of the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012-2016.

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