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Podcast | What makes a good coach?

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 09/15/16, 3:45PM EDT

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How to be a more positive coach and the impact it has on players

What makes a good coach?

In today’s game, coaches are responsible for developing an athlete’s mental, physical, technical and tactical abilities. In addition to all of these responsibilities, there is an underlying expectation to win. When it comes to judging coaching performance, the player’s perspective can be easily overlooked at the grassroots level.

Coaches should think of players as more than just that – these are members of the community who are growing up as your neighbours. Part of a coach’s job is to help make them more successful people in the future.

By being a good listener, a coach is being a good communicator. Everyone on the team, from the staff to the players, needs to feel like they have a voice and that it is being heard. While the coach holds the majority of power, they should still have an open mind when listening to players and parents.

“Your job is build a better citizen through this sport and recreation experience and make sure that they’re ready to be one in society,” said Jeremy Cross, Director of Coach Development at the Coaches Association of Ontario.

“In my opinion, what really is a make it or break it for these youth, the first one is respect from the coach to the players. A caring adult, one that really supports development, is fair and honest with the athletes and participants out there.”

“Another one is just straight up having fun. What is that and what does that mean? How does that look when you’re doing it? It’s making the environment that you’re competing in fun and positive so you need a safe place to play, you need to enable and encourage and believe in the athletes. You need a variety of activities and things that you’re doing in your sessions that all have a focus and purpose and make sure that everyone is engaging at all times in your training sessions and competitions.”

Keeping everyone involved can start right from the first practice of the season. When going over team rules and goals, let the players take on some ownership, responsibility and accountability by creating some of their own. Set your team goals as being both attainable and ones further away that the group can work towards.

Getting the team included in this process helps create a trust factor that goes both ways. Trust is something that is built and earned and begins right at the time a coach begins as leader of the group. Coaches should stick to commitments and hold players accountable through clear communication.

“If you say ‘I’m going to play everybody equally at this age,’ then you better play everybody equally because people are going to count those things.”

If a coach is going to use a loud voice, try to have it be in a positive tone. Feedback and constructive criticism work better when given in a smaller group or one-on-one conversation. Younger players are not as socially developed as older ones and may not respond as well to being yelled at.

“You need to create an environment as a coach where the group is a supportive unit. When a supportive unit and positive environment is created, the likelihood of success is better.”

There’s a reason that players look back on their youth sports experiences and remember the coaches that made a positive impact on them.

“The benefits of positive coaching to me are that children stay in sport longer, they live more productive lives, they lead healthier lives, physically and mentally, and more self-confidence in general. They give back to the sport in the future, make life long friendships, they do better in school and work.”

“Coaches words have a lasting power and those words need to empower players to exceed in sport and in life."


National Coaches Week in Ontario
Celebrating Coaches in Ontario for over 10 years!

September 17th– 25th, 2016 marks the second annual National Coaches Week (11th Coaches Week in Ontario) asking Canadians join together to celebrate the tremendous positive impact coaches have on athletes and communities. Free NCCP Courses across the province and grassroots mentorship program to help recruit new volunteer coaches in Ontario.

Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards - Sept 17th
The Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards Program celebrates the dedication and commitment of exemplary individuals who inspire, innovate and share knowledge of sport with others. The Awards recognize the importance of leadership, performance and the value of human insight which are all integral to great coaching.

The Awards will be held on Saturday, September 17th in Toronto at the Cineplex Varsity Theatre from 9am–11am featuring a light breakfast and awards presentation, hosted by a surprise special guest! Tickets are only $20 and are available for purchase below. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to celebrate coaching in Ontario!

NCCP Training and Professional Development modules are hosted daily for coaches of every context in the athlete development pathway. Take your game to the next level.

Ontario Coaches Conference - March 31 – April 2, 2017
Save the Date - Over 200 Coaches, Facilitators, Speakers and Guests enjoy this amazing weekend of learning, development, networking, workshops and fun. Keynotes speakers from the recent event were Karl Subban and Dr, Dean Kriellars, who both shared some important keys to athlete development for the athletes of today, to help them succeed tomorrow.

More information can be found on the Coaches Association of Ontario website.

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