Tools to Prepare for Next Season
Our season ended just over a month ago at our championship tournament. We were one of the lucky ones. We managed to get our championship in before there was no more hockey this season. Truly, you have no idea how much my heart goes out to the coaches and players who missed out on realizing the fruits of their hard work (sometimes a lifetime’s worth) in winning a championship this season. It all just abruptly stopped.
As most teams do, my team had its struggles this season. For me as the coach, it was a big year of learning. You would think there wasn’t much left after 31 years behind a bench to learn, but the game changes all the time. The athletes change, the team chemistry changes, roadblocks change, opponents change. We all have to learn and adapt and change along with them.
I find myself even more immersed in thinking about coaching and hockey than usual. My son Ben and I take the dogs for a walk everyday for about an hour. I bore him with hockey talk for a good half of that. He is a good sounding board having played the game, and I think it helps that he had me as a coach when he was younger. One of my struggles this year was with leadership. Ben was always a good leader with our teams and his insight into that aspect of the game is often invaluable.
Much of my reading this spring has to do with leadership as well - not just in sports but in life. My coaching circle has certainly recommended some terrific books and I will share my new reading list in a future post.
I have also read a lot about blogging, being an online entrepreneur and being a successful online presence. At the core of all the material out there, the theme is always that you have to really love what you are doing and have a burning desire to change the world for the better. In my heart, I truly want to make the experience of playing the game of hockey, and the experience of coaching the game of hockey, the best it can be.
My assistant coach this year, John Thomson, had a running joke with me. He would rib me every time someone would come up to me in an arena and say “aren’t you the Torpedo guy!”, or “I read your blog posts all the time”. Other than a spurt of writing last spring, I haven’t been very on top of my passion for helping coaches be better coaches, and helping players be better players. So, I want to commit to getting back to posting regularly - there certainly seems to be enough time at the moment.
There are a few themes that pop up regularly in my writing. Here is a quick encapsulation of five of them:
1) Scoring goals is fun (and wins games). I say this a lot: “10-9 is way more fun than 1-0”.
2) Playing full speed is paramount to becoming better hockey players.
3) As coaches we need to find ways to encourage (and in some ways insist on) creativity while still
providing a framework for team play.
4) You don’t have to win every game to win a championship. You just have to make sure you win the last game of the season.
5) Everyone has to look forward to coming to the rink every day. If it’s not fun, we are doing something wrong.
I have tried in the past to write blog posts that are applicable for the time of year in relation to the hockey season. Right now, season planning, team culture building, scheduling, etc. are probably all on the top of our lists (they certainly are on mine).
I believe season planning is crucial to the success of a team, just like strategic planning is crucial to the success of a business or organization. As coaches, I think we have the idea that we can show up at the rink 30 minutes before a game or a practice and everything can be figured out then. To be truly effective, that just doesn’t work. Thought and planning needs to be part of our job as coaches when we are given the responsibility of developing young people in sport and in life.
Over the years, I have put together four eBooks specifically for hockey coaches to assemble and execute a comprehensive season plan.
First, Creating a Culture of Confidence is a road map to mental preparation for your players. You don’t have to have a PhD in sports psychology to be able to positively affect your players and get the most out of them at practice and games. One reader of the book commented “Easy to read and follow. Some books on similar subjects seem to be more about the author trying to sound smart versus providing practical information.” Many of the subjects in the book are directly tied into season planning and coaches will undoubtedly find some great nuggets of information.
In a nutshell, Torpedo Hockey is a system that uses four forwards and one defenceman. Originating in the Soviet Union in the 1960’s and perfected by the Swedish national team at the 1992 Olympics, this system is a “run and gun” offensive weapon that develops individual skills, tactics, and a player’s ability to “read and react”. If nothing else, the book is a “how to” manual for an outside of the box system. If you are looking for something new, this is it.
If playing four forwards and one defenceman is too out of the box for you, then Just Go Score! takes all of the principles of the Torpedo system and puts them together into an all-out, offensive mindset system of play that encourages creativity and hockey sense in your players. Minimizing the X’s and O’s and maximizing team speed and pressure is the theme of this book - guaranteed to improve every player on your team’s performance on the ice.
Finally, Essential Hockey Training is the classic drill book with the best I have from the last 36 years. What makes this book different? Each drill is easily explained and demonstrated. Each drill comes with teaching points and focus areas. Each drill works on multiple skills and tactics. Each drill can be used at all levels. One reader commented, “(Drills) focus on basic skill development as applied to playing the game.”
I know you will get a lot out of all of these terrific reads. And, as a spring special this year, use the code PRESEASONREADS to receive an additional 25% off all purchases until the end of April. As always, I am happy to connect by e-mail if you have any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All four of Coach Traugott's eBooks are available in a bundle at 25% off.
Click the image below to order.