Alright going to continue on this trend of 1-2 articles a week discussing coaching concerns and topics for all coaches. These topics will relate to all sport coaches not just hockey coaches. As I will typically use more experience and references to coaching hockey. This situations and topic apply to every sport coach. Typically 90% of these articles will be how handle the situation bringing in a real life experience and what I do.
This is a topic I have trouble with. Knowing when to push and pull. How to balance the two out and pull back a little, how to know when I am pushing too hard, how to know when I am not pushing hard enough. Balancing the two is difficult and it can lead to injury, pissed off players and parents and some animosity in the locker room.
Therefore I always find myself torn in the middle with this stuff. I am a pretty intense guy, I get loud, I get on my players, I expect effort and hard work every practice and game. I set high expectations and don't let my players falter on those expectations, I hold players accountable, I call my leaders out.
How do I balance the two? How do I find out when to push and pull. For me it's a learning process as is anything. Just like coaching and everything else, it's all a learning process. You have to take something away from every encounter with each player, every practice, everything. For me after everything I do I mentally breakdown how I think I did in that situation and I think ways I could have been better and what I could do better for next time.
I find the balance in this push and pull approach by being light and fun with the players in the locker room before practice, in the locker room before an hour before games, off the ice when we are done with practice, during off-ice training. I find ways to figure out their personality and how much I can push them and how to talk to them. Then when it comes to games, practice, a set, etc I don't let the players have mediocre performances, I push them to give me their all, I push them to work hard every single practice and game. I put them in situations in practice that are intense and pressure situations to get the ready for the game. Do I sometimes say? This group vs this group whatever group wins skates less. Sure, does it work? Sometimes. Do I leave the kids thinking what is to come next? Sure, does it work? Sometimes. I set the bar high for myself and my players because if the bar is low, how can I expect to push myself to perform every day and if I can't perform everyday to my absolute best how can I expect my players too.
As I said this is a learning process. Take notes, be diligent, realize there will bumps in the road, understand this will be difficult, understand you are never going to do everything right. Not everything is going to be taken the way you expected it to be taken by players. Don't falter on your goal. Bring an intensity every single day, set the bar high and have fun.