So, here we are. We have now started to build trust. We have identified character. We have a coaching philosophy and plan. What is left for us to do?
We have secured a fourth seed in the playoffs and have two games remaining against a team that if they defeat us twice they get the first seed and play us. However, if we get just one point, they get the second seed and much tougher draw so they think. As it turns we lost both games they get the number one seed and play us in the first round.
After these two loses we needed to take stock of where we were on the learning curve. Coaches always talk about the learning curve, but do they understand it? Once again I defaulted to Dr. McCabe. He has a great illustration of how the learning curve functions and more importantly the challenges that happen along the way. He explains each stage in his book The Mindside Manifesto. I highly recommend it.
We had our honeymoon period with the players where all was rosy and they were all excited about the changes and how we intended to play the game. However, shortly afterwards there were periods where players made decisions to deviate from our tactics which lead us to crash, resulting in confusion, frustration, and reverting back to what they knew, commonly called the comfort zone. The players had reached a decision point and so did they coaching staff. Actually, our decision to continue with our tactics was already made. The players just did not know it! The players’ decision point came after a meltdown just before the playoffs where we gave up a series of goals. We asked the players’ one simple question. Do you know the definition of insanity? A particularly bright player answered “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Coaches use this statement on a regular basis, but once again I ask the question does anyone understand why it gets to this point? I once watched a series of interviews by legendary UConn Women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemna. A statement he made has always resonated with me. “Players make mistakes for only 2 reasons. They are not properly coached or they make the decision not to do what is asked of them. If you play for UConn you will be coached”. We used that statement with our players telling them that they will always be coached. If they choose otherwise, then they have made the decision not to be a good teammate. Decisions that this staff will not accept because we believe you are better than that.
So, here we are again. The decision to continue on our present path was made. We are coming out of the fog and heading up the learning curve. The next step was to simplify the message in terms that the player can understand and to lower, are you ready for it, the level of anxiety that this team has.
This group of young adults has never used wooden sticks, worn leather skates, always had Google, and had access to Sports Centre 24/7. If they did not like an answer they can group chat, text previous coaches, or go onto the many hockey sites and find an answer that satisfies them. For years the only thing we had had to deal with was Car Coaching, now we are at a totally different level.
Fortunately for us the Internet and Google do not know how old we are and we too have found the on ramp to the information highway, which I must say was a lot easier than learning to drive on the other side of the road on a 2018 golf holiday. That is a story for another day!
Until next time!
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