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hockey story

 This is a story about a high school hockey coach. I ran into this person when I was called to help a youth sports coach solve a problem on his team. While waiting for his team to come off the ice, I noticed this high school coach with a serious look on his face standing at the arena door, scowling. Previously, I had been told that he was a great guy and that everyone likes this guy. I was stunned when he spoke. He cursed the team practicing on the ice and cursed at them, saying they should get off the ice. He turned away in disgust and headed back into his locker room.
When it came time for his team to take the ice for the game, he purposefully held them back in the locker room, until, eventually, two different people had to go back to the locker room and tell him that it was time to get on the ice. Just before he let his team go on the ice, one of the officials started to leave the ice to go get him and his team.
Now he really had my attention. During the game, I stood next to the bench and watched how he interacted with his players. Again, I was stunned. He had a very young group of players, and yet he spent more time barking at the players and the officials than he did teaching and praising the kids. Two specific incidents happened during the contest that made me rethink the popular opinion of this coach. First, one of his players was hit into the boards right next to the bench he was coaching from, and a penalty was not called immediately. His remark to his own player on the ice was unbelievable. Instead of checking on the player’s well being, he instructed the player to stay down on the ice and not move. The player was clearly fine, as I was right behind the glass where it happened, less than two feet from the player. He looked up at his coach, who was glaring at him, and sat back down on the ice. The coach wanted a penalty called on the play.
The next incident was even worse. One of his young defensemen made a bad give away in the neutral zone that resulted in a scoring chance for the other team. He pulled the kid off the ice and then reamed him.  He blasted the player in a loud voice, in front of the rest of the team, telling him that he had made a terrible mistake. He told the player that if he did anything like that again, he would be finished for the rest of the game. Again, I was right next to the bench, and the looks on the faces of the player and his teammates was exceptionally telling. The defenseman who was yelled at was devastated. His head was down and he looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there.
How do you think he was going to perform while living in fear of losing his playing time? You may think that feeling is an acceptable motivating factor, but it is not. It is only a possible short term solution. The coach is modeling behavior to his players that they will certainly either internalize and imitate, or rebel against. The player learns that it is acceptable to criticize teammates and get in their face if they make a mistake. The people connected with the team were unaware of the incident, while the coach tried to win a game that is meaningless to the entirety of the season.

Written by : VJS