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Ive been asked to mentor a group of young coaches.

There is a local house league for 6-10 year olds. Ive been asked to mentor the coaches which are college kids and/or recently college grads. Some of these guys will continue to coach and some wont. Would like to provide a foundation to build apon. At this age no Xs and Os. But what makes a good coach? There are lots of things liek communication, understanding the players, etc.
Personally Im very prepared for practices and games so will try to develop that discipline of season/practice planning. But with the tons of coaching experience Im curious what else I should do along with any material you feel is useful. I did buy Ryan Walters new book for them, its called "Hungry". Im a big Ryan Walter fan. The book doesn?t really give any coaching advice per say but its about being hungry for more. Being open minded while searching for knowledge.
Thanks in advance

EDIT:Also 2nd question since Im at it

I am doing a parents meeting Saturday. Tom or anyone. Someone have a document that covers the basics to hockey? Or what do you give to parents at the 1st meeting for 6-10 year old?
Its a house league for kids that can barely skate. So I drafted a 1 page doc on proper stick length along with all the equipment they need for their son or daughter. How to get dressed. Stuff like that but I feel Im missing info that could help new parents to the world of hockey.

Registered: 04/13/11
Posts: 38
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Three good reads for you:

(1) InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann

(2) The Double-Goal Coach by Jim Thompson (he also has another book that is excellent!)

(3) Bruce Brown's material (available for discount if bought in 'bulk') - he is at:

Once you have read this material yourself, I highly advise these young coaches to be provided access to these - and not all at once - so they don't get overwhelmed. I like Bruce's stuff as you can hand out booklets (better, less intimidating bite-sized pieces.)

Don't worry about the X's and O's... have fun and play lots of cross-ice games! Skills will be learned from within the games. The most important things for these coaches are how they treat people!

You are well on your way as per your 2nd question. Stick length (and composition - these kids don't need composite; save the $ and buy junior (or intermediate) wooden sticks for the kids - the parents will love you for this! It is easier / cheaper to find the right size and develop a feel for the puck... and the straighter the curve, the better!), how to get dressed, proper equipment fitting, use of mouthguards and neck guards, etc.

Safety and function are important, as is "Positive Coaching & Fun." I would include a brief summary of your mentoring philosophy (values, morals, ethics and a couple examples of integrity - "values in action" for the coaches / parents / kids) and how these will impact the development of the kids as people and athletes. The overall plan can be a work in progress as you will add and subtract in the future based on this experience, but it is important to make them aware of your demonstratable expectations (the parents, coaches and kids).

I am including a couple of documents that may (or may not!) provide you with some food for thought.

Don't feel you need to know all the answers from the start. Provide a general framework with a few specifics (values, the plan) and be prepared to learn / adapt as you go. But stick to your values!!!

Mentorship is a living, breathing animal and you will find there isn't a "one size fits all" because you deal with different coaches (and they each bring their own point of view and philosophy to the rink.) Not everyone 'wants' mentorship... you need to develop a relationship with 'your people'... ask them what they want (as a suggestion, provide a specific checklist containing aspects of both the art and science of coaching... have them rank order their top 5 out of 20 as an example... but make sure you can specifically identify 20 factors and can develop a potential plan to deal with them! This will give you an introduction to your coaches and see if you can find some commonality to their needs so you can mazimize your time!)

Best wishes with your mentorship! Because you are open-minded and are looking for suggestions, I know you will do a terrific job! Please keep us informed and ask more questions if you want. We might not know all the answers, but we will try to help as best we can!

M.Ed (Coaching)
Ch.P.C. (Chartered Professional Coach)
Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

Active Member
Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 2059
Location: Calgary AB Canada
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Aberdeen all the things Dean wrote are true and I would add some meat to the philosophy because the parents want to know if their children are going to learn the skills of the game.

Draw a circle in front of each net and tell them that the idea is to get to that area in the opponents end and score and to keep them out of that area.

Tell them that there are five things the players need to learn.
1. Skating forward, backward and being able to move in all directions with balance.
2. Role one - individual offensive skills.
3. Role two - team offensive skills (introductory at this level but learn to play up to a 3-3.)
4. Role three - individual defensive skills.
5. Role four - team defensive skills (at this level dside and protect the circle in front.
6. Good habits - face the puck, give a target, stick on the puck, stick in the lanes, move to open ice with the puck, pass to someone in better position than you, use escape moves, etc. )

'The Game is the Greatest Coach'
'Enjoy the Game'
Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 3122
Location: Calgary, Canada
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Thanks Tom!

Aberdeen, here is another article to follow up on what I mentioned earlier about Positive Coaching:


An open letter to coaches: Positive coaches

John Russo, Let's Play Hockey.com, 08 December 2011

The following letter went out to all of the Elite League (boys and girls) and Elite Development League coaches and assistants for the 2011 season. It was one of the items identified as a "focus" for this year's play. As you all likely know, I feel the psychological portion of the game is as important as the physical, and in fact, often controls the physical aspects.

It would be worthwhile for all associations and schools to hand the letter out to all of their coaches at all levels.


To: Elite Leagues and Elite D Coaches

From: John Russo

We would like to make a special effort this coming 2011 season to try to get results by positive reinforcing means. The best way for players to thrive and succeed is for them to feel good about themselves. They feel less stress and anxiety and play with greater composure. There will be times, however, when criticizing of the team (primarily) will be in order.

Players and, in fact, whole teams subconsciously choose to play harder or better based on how they feel (generally) and how they feel about you and the team. If you are positive to them and the team has a good overall positive feel about it, each player will play harder for you and for the team.

This all starts with all coaches staying composed. The worst thing we all do is lose our composure over the refereeing - or any other game-related issue (i.e. goalie having a bad game). This passes on to players who also get worked up and don't play their best.

If you were to get a chance to sit on both benches in a game, you would likely hear both coaching groups complaining about the referees. Things generally (over a season) work out about even with refereeing - so take the bad with the good and give your players a break.

Young players have all the stress they need from parents, scouts, etc. They need as much positive reinforcements and coaching as they can get. Even when you make corrections - an important part of coaching - it is a good idea to start or end with a positive. It might sound something like this: "That was a great breakout pass you made last shift. Also remember to follow the play a little closer; it will get you a few extra points this season."

There are some really good words that make players feel good and play good. They include:

"You can do it"
"I believe in you"
"I trust you"
"I know you'll try your best"
"The team needs you"
"I'm proud of you"
"I'm proud of what you've accomplished"

It is also good to point out all of the good things that can make a player feel good - feel confident.

These are a sample of very simple and obvious items that make players and teams feel more confident and play well:

Good practice prior
Play well in that arena
Playing well recently - "on a roll"
Like to play the team upcoming
Good positive comments from parents, coaches, teammates
Really good warm-up
Likes teammates or linemates
Having fun
Positive environment

You don't know what kind of environment players are coming from at home or on their other teams (AAA, high school), so you need to give your players a"safe" and enjoyable place. "Enjoyable" does mean great effort and players doing their jobs, however - so that needs to be stressed also. A statement like: "We want you to have fun this season, but we also want you to progress and enjoy our time together in mature ways, like learning to play at 100 percent all the time and doing your job 100 percent of the time. These are mature things that make you feel good about yourselves - and create enjoyment"

I hope you will each also help your players help themselves do well. That's an internal thing for each athlete.

Part of your value as coach is that each of you has done well in our sport. You obviously had the proper external (we've just talked about those) and internal forces (confidence). If you think about your own growth, there were internal things that helped you.

It could be confidence in the coaches' methods or background, positive visualization (some coaches use this before games for relaxation and self confidence), proper realistic goal setting, learning to "talk to yourself" positively, or just plain 100 percent commitment. Motivation is internal and is really a combination of all these things; as well as composure and mental toughness when games get tight.

Often composure and mental toughness are dependent upon being properly prepared (experienced) - from good practices and good practicing of the various aspects of the game - and a good level of concentration. It is harder to prepare for hockey situations than any other sport because it is so fast and has so many possible variations of what can happen. That's why it is important in our environment of few practices to give players many rotations of critical situations, i.e.: many 2-on-2 half-ice rotations, many in-zone 3-on-3 tag-up drills.

These get the players into the swing and pace - and helps them prepare for a variety of outcomes. Players should have to face tough situations in practice, i.e.: 2-on-2, 2-on-3 for forwards, and 3-on-2 and 3-on-1 for defense.

We also encourage you to watch your players before, during and after games for signs of lack of confidence and especially anxiety. Watch for emotional issues (over- or under-emotion), poor execution in games, over-reacting to good or bad things, quietness or boastfulness, or inordinate involvement by either or both parents, for example.

It is your job to counsel players as best you can in regard to anxieties. It is one of the most prevalent issues with young athletes. If you see severe issues, however, you need to talk to one of us, and we will try to get some help, possibly from a sports psychologist. Remember, however, that self confidence is one of the things that cures anxiety.

So here we are again, back to self confidence and positive reinforcement of players. Players and teams that play hard generally feel better about themselves - win or lose.

John Russo, Ph.D., is founder and director of the Upper Midwest High School Elite League. He was a captain at the University of Wisconsin, and his Coaches Corner columns have appeared in LPH since 1986.

M.Ed (Coaching)
Ch.P.C. (Chartered Professional Coach)
Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

Active Member
Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 2059
Location: Calgary AB Canada
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Thank you very much Dean and Tom! I just printed all this out and will comment when I get through it. But REALLY appreciate it

Registered: 04/13/11
Posts: 38
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Here's another good piece of advice from Jay Bylsma's father Jay, called "It Pays", found on the USA Hockey website. I attached a PDF copy too, since some of the formatting gets lost in the copy & paste method. - Dave

(Pamphlet for Coaches)

So You're Going to Coach My Grandchild?
A message to coaches from Jay M. Bylsma

I?m so grateful that you've volunteered to be the coach of my grandchild's ice hockey team. I'm getting a bit too old to be out on the ice with these young kids and without you volunteering, it?s possible my Bryan wouldn't have an opportunity to play this wonderful game that?s meant so much to his father and uncles and myself.

My Bryan made it through tryouts. You might have thought that the tryouts were to see whether or not Bryan was good enough to make your team. That wasn't it at all. It was to see if you were good enough to be entrusted with my grandchild. You see, I don?t really care if you know much about hockey, or whether you have a winning record. I don't know or care if you've ever coached a kid that made it the NHL, or Division I college hockey, or even high school. But I know that every one of the kids you coach will have a life to lead after hockey. You will coach far more doctors and lawyers than professional hockey players. So I'm more interested in what
kind of a role model you are and your ability to teach Bryan life lessons than whether you can teach him the left wing lock or backwards crossovers.

Let me explain why I don't care if you have a winning record. Think back over all the games you played in organized sports as a kid - any and all the sports. Can you remember any of the scores of any of those games or even if you won or lost? If you?re like me you can?t remember many - if even one. But I can remember every coach I ever had. Mr. Sterkenberg, Mr. Naerebout, Mr. VanderMey, and others. I can even picture them in my mind. Images of good men who taught me (whether they knew it or not) sportsmanship, integrity, to play by the rules, and to have fun. They made a lasting impression on me, just as you will have a lasting impression on my little Bryan. But apparently winning wasn't important enough for me to remember. Bryan hasn't been enrolled in the youth hockey program to win. He's been enrolled to have fun, to increase his athleticism, and to learn life lessons.

What kind of a lasting impression will you have? You are his coach, a position just bit lower than the angels. He will hang on your every word. He will skate into the boards for you. He will never forget you as you've never forgotten your coaches. And he will learn from you, perhaps as much by what you do as what you say. You are the potter and Bryan is the clay.

For example, if you pick your team based on talent and ability you will show Bryan that talent and ability are the criteria that a person needs to be successful. If you pick your team based on the associations you have- that is, your GM's kid gets to play, your brother-in-law's kid is on the power play - each regardless of ability, you will show Bryan that you get ahead in life by who you know, accomplishment and achievement don't count for as much as connections.

If you tell the kids, "Every one pays equally, everyone plays equally, and then only some kids get on the power play and play in the third period, you influence kids about the meaning of honesty and deception.* If you say disparaging remarks about the other team, the other coach, or the officials, you demean the game and incidentally yourself and you teach Bryan that it?s okay - perhaps even manly - to be disrespectful and pejorative.

If you need to put ringers on your team to be competitive in an out-of-town tournament, you are influencing your players about your standard of honesty and the importance of winning at the cost of your integrity.

If you say a disparaging remark about education, you may depreciate the value of education - this in a sport where if you aspire to play at a higher level, good grades may be as - or more important than - your hockey skill. Your demeanor, your language, your deportment, your values, your aspirations, your character becomes the role model. You are the potter, Bryan is the clay.

You see, I don?t even think this is about hockey at all. It?s about teaching Bryan life lessons. It?s about re-enforcing the lessons he learns at home. Hockey is just the blossom we use to attract the bees. And we attract the bees to teach them to respect the game, to respect their opponents as worthy competitors, to respect the officials and their decisions, to teach them fairness, and how to main self-control.

If he?s a good player, I hope you won?t aggrandize him or over use him but help him be a team player. If he?s a poor player, I hope you won?t demean him but give him his fair share of ice time and help him become a better player. I hope you will remember he?s just a child and your career as a coach isn?t riding on his back. I hope you will remember that a word of encouragement after
a mistake is worth more than a pile of praise after a success. My son Dan and I started the IT PAYS initiative because for all its inherent good, changes in youth sports are very disturbing to us. There are the well publicized instances of cheating, abuse,
assaults, and even murder. But these are only the tip of the iceberg. The sport is having ever increasing difficulty attracting and keeping officials because of verbal abuse and assaults by coaches and parents. Skilled players are leaving the game because of violent play by bigger less skilled players who are instructed ?take them out? instead of improving their own level of play to
compete successfully. A win-at-a-cost mentality demeans less skilled players who may rarely see ice time in the third periods of close games ? which ironically impacts their ability to improve. Sadly, some coaches have taken the fun out of the game for the children by exerting too much pressure, being too critical, being demeaning, and being too vocal in an inappropriate way. The
consequences of losing sight of the purpose of youth sports ? that is as a game of childhood, a wonderful pastime ? is that the life lessons that are being taught are less than wholesome and sometimes destructive.

Dan and I hope that you will wholeheartedly continue to support goals of IT PAYS ? for the good of this great game, for its reputation, and for the positive influence we hope you?ll have on the child we entrusted to you.

Jay M. Bylsma

Note: Jay M. Bylsma is the father of three sons who played college hockey including Dan who has played in over 320 games in the NHL and is currently the Assistant Captain of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He has also coached youth hockey teams from Mites to Juniors. He has co-authored three books with Dan, So Your Son Wants to Play in the NHL, Sleeping Bear Press,1998, So You Want to Play In the NHL, Contemporary/McGraw-Hill, 2000, and Pitcher?s Hands is OUT!, River Road Publications, 2001. He has made many TV, radio, and personal appearances on the subject of the proper role of youth athletics, with Dan maintains an extensive website (www.DanBylsma.com), and publishes a monthly newsletter for young hockey players, their coaches and their parents. Bryan is Dan?s little son.

Go to www.danbylsma.com/itpays/itpaystest.htm and go to sections entitled Coaches' Contract and the Letter to Coaches. These two references are what Dan and his father think coaching youth hockey is all about and may give you some ideas (ammunition) in your approach.

Regular Member
Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 79
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Aberdeen - Here's another good article you might find useful. PDF version attached.

Great Advice to Start the Season
by Dan Bauer

It is official, all youth athletics are nuts. Hockey may have earned the right of getting there first, but every other sport has now fallen in place. They are all too organized, travel too much, too expensive and too time consuming. We place put too much emphasis on keeping score and winning and too little emphasis on having fun.

As another youth hockey season descends upon us I have some simple advice for parents to help make your hockey experience more enjoyable.

Skip tryouts. Leave the rink, go to a movie, have dinner with your spouse, just stay away. If your child makes the A team, be happy and humble. If your child makes the B team, be happy and calm. Next to skill, the most important quality of a good athlete is confidence. Benefit: Stress Reduction.

Every rink has a water fountain. Save time and money on the Gatorade, because I'm not certain that 10 year-olds even have electrolytes. And if they do, I bet they have a lot of them. We only start losing things when we get older. Savings: 80+ games & practices @ $2.00 = $160.

They can carry their own bag and if they can't it's too big. You don't carry your kid's backpack to school for them; you shouldn't have to carry their hockey bag either. Donate your wheelie bag to a stewardess and get one that has to be carried. Benefit: Increased leg strength.

Kids can dress and undress themselves?go get a cup of coffee and relax. Once they have been through it a few times they can figure it out. And if they can't, that is why they have teammates. Eventually they will get it on or off. Be patient. Benefit: Team Unity. (PS: Coffee is cheaper then Gatorade)

Teach them to tie their own skates as soon as possible?good skaters have loose skates, so let them get used to it early. As long as you keep tying them they are going to let you. Haven't we learned this ?helpless? lesson before? Benefit: Ankle strength.

New equipment is for Christmas, maybe a birthday?but should not be a birthright of every new season. Buy used equipment?a 58lb squirt doesn't need the support of a $300 pair of skates. A $300 pair of skates could be worn by a 58lb squirt for ten years and still not be worn out?it's basic physics. Today's skates are as rigid as marine core training. Savings: $200+.

On the subject of skates, as soon as they are old enough to drive, they are old enough to get their own skates sharpened. If they tell you they don't have time, compare your schedule to theirs, then hand the skates back to them. Benefit: Time for you & responsibility for them.

Buy wooden sticks. Force dealers to put them back on the stick rack; it is supply & demand economics. A 9 year old doesn't need a composite stick unless he is 6' and 200lbs, or you can buy a 10 flex. A wooden stick will do fine. Save me the sales pitch on response and feel. Until they can feel the difference between clean and dirty hair save your money. And like tying skates, they can learn to tape their stick much sooner than they would like you to believe. Savings: $200+. Benefit: Wrist strength & eye-hand coordination.

Kids believe that the concession stand is an essential part of hockey?like their skates. If they go out and skate well, have fun and come off with a smile on their face?they don't need a reward, except maybe a pat on the back. Walk past the concession stand a few times?I know we need to support the rink, but it shouldn't be the place where you eat most of your meals.
They also don't need breakfast at Perkins or lunch at Mc Donalds after every game or practice. Let them learn that the reward is hockey! It is a privilege to be able to play and if they don't make their bed and feed the dog you will take it away. Benefit: Discipline, help around the house, more money for coffee.

Herb Brooks said it best, ?The name on the front of the jersey is a heck of a lot more important than the name on the back?. This is a team sport; the sooner kids learn that, the better. Names on the back of jerseys are for when you get to the NHL. You should be able to figure out which one is yours without that visual aide. If you can't, remember that is why we put numbers on the jerseys?those numbers aren't a ranking system?they are for identification. Nobody wears two nametags at work, right? Benefit: Team Unity & Humility.

Don't watch every practice?let them tell you about a few?they'll enjoy it. Send them the message that you have more important things to do than watch the practice. This is not neglect, but common sense. If parents spent as much time helping kids with their homework as they do watching practice, our kids would all be getting straight A's. This is their experience?not yours. Turn them loose. Benefit: Time.

Let your kids have fun. If their best friend calls on a Friday night and wants them to: a) go to a movie, b) go to the outdoor rink, c) go sledding, don't say no because they have a game tomorrow, or in most cases three games. They are kids, if you haven't noticed they don't get tired. Do you ever remember being too tired as a kid? Let them go swimming at the motel, play football in the snow. AJ Hawk might need to sleep in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, but your kid doesn't. Benefit: Balance, & a Happier Child.

Don't try to coach?your team already has one. Pat them on the back after a tough loss and thank them for their time and effort. Buy them a cup of coffee and talk about anything, but hockey. Benefit: Respect.

Last, but not least, at an athletic contest you can be a player, a coach, a fan or an official?but you can only be one. For those parents who are confused, you are a fan. Cheer when your team does something well. Drink coffee the rest of the time, it tastes better than your foot. Benefit: More friends, fewer enemies.

Enjoy your season!
You can learn more about Dan's philosophy at www.HockeyByBauer.com.

Regular Member
Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 79
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That is frickin' CLASSIC! I could have (should have) written it myself!

I especially HATE those wheelie bags! When I was a kid, if I couldn't carry my own bag (by the handles!), I didn't get ot go to hockey.

Hockey Canada gives us these 'wheeled coaching bags' through their skill academies. Those wheels have yet to touch the ground or turn one revolution... and that's the way it's gonna stay!

M.Ed (Coaching)
Ch.P.C. (Chartered Professional Coach)
Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

Active Member
Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 2059
Location: Calgary AB Canada
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