Coaching a team can be difficult. When your own kids are playing on the squad this tough task becomes even more challenging. While all parents get involved with coaching their kid’s team for all the right reasons, there are times when their hearts may get in the way of doing what’s best for the team as a whole, or even doing what’s best for their child.
It’s a challenging balance but it starts with creating a clear divide between ‘coach’ and ‘dad’. That’s where the reward of sharing the hockey experience begins. Once you hit the rink, ‘son’ becomes another member of the team while ‘dad’ becomes ‘coach’.
Mastering this is one of the main keys according to Rob Pearson, head coach of the Whitby Wildcats Minor Midget AAA team. His son Luke is a goalie on the team and Pearson acknowledges that the aspect of coaching his child would be tougher if he was a skater and not a netminder. Pearson alternates his goalies each game no matter who the opponent is, giving each a chance to face all levels of opposition.
Pearson wanted to give back to hockey and share his knowledge of both the good times he experienced playing in the NHL and some of the mistakes he made. He knows that from the outside looking in parents can be checking to see if a coach is favouring their own kid.
To see more of how Rob balances being a father and a coach, check out this episode of Home Ice powered by Under Armour:
“I think you need to give that coach a little leniency. He is putting in a lot of hours and he does put a lot of thought into what he’s doing. Sometimes the coach’s son is the better player. Is it the right way to go?… At the end of the day if the coach has a son, you have to look at it is it better for the team? Is it not better?” said Pearson. “Most coaches need to look and see that this is a team game and teams that win championships are usually teams that can get the most out of every player out on the ice.”
Pearson won an OMHA Minor Midget championship as a player with Oshawa so knows both sides of the bench on what it takes to win at a high level. He’s still friends with the majority of his teammates to this day. When doing research about coaching, Pearson came across an interesting note about how parents and coaches should speak with players on the car ride home.
“One thing that kids do not like or don’t anticipate and don’t enjoy is going back to the car after the game. That was the number one reason they didn’t like minor hockey, was going to the car and listening to (criticism) the ride all the way home… One thing I can say to all parents, plus coaches, is do your best once you get to the car or parking lot, don’t start the car, have your little two minute talk with your son or daughter. Be clear on everything, the positives, maybe some negatives they could work on, but make sure once you start the car that they are your son or daughter.”