AHU Coach’s Corner: Just a reminder to all coaches for the season
Happy start of the season, fellow amateur coaches!
I suspect you have thought about how you plan to organize your season. There are master plans, goals to accomplish each month, starting with the first two weeks and then monthly after that. This progression gets lots of attention, so I want to address something else – tools for your season.
All of this of course is dependent on the age of your players. Squirts and Mites may be in a category all to themselves because of their age and immaturity.
Here are some things I suggest you consider going into the season:
• Journals – both for yourself and for your players. Journaling helps to track your history, set new goals and review often. No matter your master plan, you will need to make constant adjustments. Find quiet time after practices and games to make journal entries to track your history and that of the team. Set new time-bound goals. If nothing else, journaling forces you to take stock of your efforts as a coach. This is a great thing to teach your players as well. It is a constant evaluation of current progress, a tracking of personal history which can be learned from and with this evaluation, a constant reset of new goals.
• Water bottles. They often come in six packs with carrying case. They should be washed frequently.
• Pucks and a good puck bag.
• Tape – white, black and clear, if you provide such things. You should also show kids how to tape their socks, above the calf and of course, below the knee.
• Coaches boards with dry erase markers. Larger boards for the rink. Smaller boards for the bench during games. Even pocket-sized boards. Maybe two or three colored dry erase markers.
• Sweet Stick. I have one on my keychain. There are several products out there such as the Sweet Stick. These products are great for those of us in high school and the many youth levels. These products are often ceramic and serve to easily re-edge a damaged or simply dull skate blade. If you are coaching with a professional equipment manager, they can get a skate sharpened between shifts. For the rest of us, such a tool can re-edge a blade in seconds, getting your player not only through the game, but through a tournament weekend before getting back home for a full sharpening.
• Preparation is the greatest thing we can teach our young players. On game day, wood stickhandling balls work great for off-ice and pregame warmup. I also recommend a portable slide board. They now come easy to carry with little shoe covers. Three to five minutes on the slide board will activate and prepare all those skating muscles for warmups and game time. Be sure to stress a deep knee bend. I also like to add some full=out short distance sprints to the end of any warmup routine.
• Always carry a few extra mouth guards. They are inexpensive and none of us want our kids out there faking they have one when they simply forgot theirs at home. We all wish kids would always be responsible for all of this, but facts are we all make mistakes, and forgetting something such as a mouth guard is commonplace. I hate to see a kid’s day ruined because they forgot what is an important but small item.
• Another small item is a helmet repair kit. They are inexpensive. Some have small screwdrivers, along with the various nuts, screws and j-hooks for the mask. These things do come loose and again, losing a screw or nut is not a reason to miss the game.
• An extra-large sport bag to carry all this “stuff.”
Kurt Goar is Arizona Hockey Union’s coach-in-chief.