The Mind of a 14 Year Old Athlete
If you follow my blog, Twitter feed or Facebook page, you probably know that I coach a Bantam BB boy's team in the OMHA. It has been a fascinating journey - for everyone. You also probably know that we have been employing the Torpedo System - one that has four forwards and one defenceman on the ice rather than the typical three and two. As I am outlining in this blog, the Torpedo System just keeps getting better and better. In fact, we played three terrific games this past weekend losing only one (to a terrific goaltender).
But, here is my quandary today. I read two really good blogs posts last week. I did share them but here they are again. Deflections: Do this then do that… by Richard Bercuson talks about his experience this season coaching a Bantam Boys team and his sometime frustration with implementing systems. The second blog post was Hockey: An easy game to play ... from the stands by Hal Tearse in which the author explains how difficult it really is to execute everything that needs to be executed in a hockey game and how as observers, we truly are mystified as to why our young charges are so "out to lunch" sometimes.
Which brings me to the quintessential moment of my three game weekend. We were on a power play mid game in our third game of the weekend. One of my forwards was rushing the puck down the ice with a clear lane wide on the left side of the ice and support on the rush. He made the choice to cut in to the middle of the ice into traffic just before the blue line and lost the puck to the defenders who did a nice job of stepping up and closing the gap.
Now, I am pretty sure that there is no system (team play) that we have worked on more this season in practice than our offensive zone entry. The puck carrier is to go wide across the blue line. Period. We have gone over this and over this - and "wide" is NOT DOWN THE DOT LINE coach is heard to say regularly. Our power play breakout is exactly the same as our regular breakout except, the puck carrier is to GO WIDE and continue down to boards to set up the power play behind the net.
So, my forward comes off. I am a little hot under the collar. I ask "nicely", "Where are you supposed to go on the power play breakout?" The answer - "I don't know" he said earnestly.
So, I am thinking "I am the WORST coach in the world!!". "Clearly I have absolutely NO communication skills if players don't know they are supposed to cross the blue line wide".
Now, I am trying to take some sort of solace by re-reading the blogs mentioned above. And three things stand out. 1) We have to celebrate when we do things correctly and not fret so much if things don't go as they were taught in practice. 2) Keep systems simple (and this is why I really like the Torpedo System a lot - it's simple). And 3) It's a complex fast game that demands skill, "read and react", innate athletic ability physically and mentally, and experience to play at a high level.
I am going to keep my high expectations but not be so upset when they are not always met by my 14 year old charges.