This week's column:
How Can I Be an Effective Coach?
June 15, 2011
Hi, Bill: Thanks for this column. It’s a great tool for us all. … After a few years of skating indoors, I am getting ready to start coaching an indoor team. I know the standard drills and techniques. But I have never coached before and am wondering what I can do to get my team on track to victory? - Stevo from Chicago.
Hi, Stevo: Glad to hear of your interest in coaching. We always need new coaches for our sport.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you step into this new role:
- Everyone wears an invisible sign around his or her neck that reads, “Please make me feel important.”
- Every piece of criticism should be sandwiched between two slices of praise.
- Pain is three dimensional: physical, psychological and emotional.
- Stress is part of life. There’s no escaping it. You just have to deal with it.
- Communication is difficult. When you explain things to your team, imagine that your skaters are deaf and can’t understand you. Then when you finish, ask one of them to repeat or demonstrate what you just explained.
- Variety eliminates boredom and keeps your skaters returning to practice week after week.
As far as drills go, you probably already know a great deal. US coaches are the best in the world when it comes to indoor drills.
When I coach indoors, I focus on relays with teams of various sizes from two to five skaters.
One of the beauties of relays is that by changing the composition of teams, you can give everyone — even slower skaters — the experience of winning.
I also like ladder drills, in which the team first skates one lap, then two, three and four before starting down again.
For distance training, I like the catch up drill. In this drill, you have your team skating laps. Then, at regular intervals, you yell “catch up,” signalling to the stronger skaters that it is time for them to lap the field.
And don’t forget to make time for off-skate drills and plyometrics. They are an important part of any skate training program.
Schedule off-skate sessions once or twice a week. If you don't have access to a rink on these days, move your off-skate sessions to a nearby park.
That’s one of the beauties of off-skate training. You can do it just about anywhere.