I started by addressing it at our parents meeting thoroughly, with players and parents in the room. I related to my years of coaching and the success, or lack thereof, and stressed that this is just a game and that the players will remember the friendships made or experiences along the way, not the score at the end of the day. I encourage players to be creative and remind them that the game is read and react not all straightforward X's and O's. If they aren't making mistakes, they are not trying hard enough. Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.
The coaching staff have stressed that when a coach approaches a player after a shift with the white board and marker it's not a negative thing, it is a learning opportunity. When we showed them examples with x's and o's it confused every player, which showed that we had to start at an earlier stage then progress to more complex concepts. White board talks are one method of helping us achieve the progression in team play, they are not to be feared. I've been on teams where staff have the players so scared to make a mistake that they play reserved or are afraid to go on the ice. The players should look forward to coming to the rink to play this wonderful game and see their friends, not to get stomach aches if a bad play is made.
Don't get me wrong, everyone enjoys winning and you will remember a big title years after you move on from minor hockey but at what sacrifice. Staying positive, with hard work and dedication can lead to success, you don't need to make it dreadful. I strive to achieve that every player is better on and off the ice at the end of the year than when they stepped on the ice at tryouts. My goal is to have every player develop their skills throughout the year and that they can't wait to sign up for next season.