AHU Coach’s Corner: Being a leader within the game means just being yourself
There are two types of leaders in hockey.
First, you have the vocal, loud intense player and then you have the quiet leader who leads by example.
Both serve a different purpose and can be effective if the leaders go about it the right way.
Some leaders have the ability to do both.
When you are the vocal leader, you may not be as skilled, but your work ethic is off the charts. The vocal leader can say what he sees, but may not be able to perform what he sees on the ice, but he or she will at least try. It all depends on what level the person is at. If the person is a vocal leader on a junior team, he may be able to hold the kids to a higher standard. This may even cause getting in someone’s face or even calling that person out. If the team needs to be more physical, you better believe this person is going to go out and do just that.
The leader who leads by example is someone who can generally change the game with a big play or a goal whenever the team needs it. This person is a player that loves the pressure and can show guys how to play the right way. These guys or girls are generally the leading goal scorers or point getters on the team and consistently want the puck to make a difference.
There are times when a team has a guy or girl who can do both. These players are rare, but usually a team will have one. Generally, this person is very passionate and wears their heart on their sleeve. That is how they got to be so good – they didn’t have any talent to start and worked to become that leading goal scorer and that allows them to be vocal as well and have the ability to perform what message they are relaying to the team.
All this said, being a leader is not for everyone.
For some people, it puts too much pressure on them and it takes away from their ability to play the game. When the team is going through a hard time, the coach will generally put a lot of it on the leaders in order to find out what is going on with the team and that is part of the reason why the task is so hard. The leadership group is the most important on the team because they are generally the core group and if you have a good group of personnel, the team will always follow because the leaders need to be doing the right things on and off the ice, and that is contagious.
If you are a leader and the team picks you to be a leader, you have to be yourself. The team or coaching staff has already picked you for a reason and if you try too hard or try to be a different form of a leader, the team will sense that and they will lose respect for you and you will have no control of the locker room.
In the end, be yourself. You are a leader for a reason.
Colten St. Clair is the head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Knights Tier II junior team in the Western States Hockey League and the skills coach for the Arizona Hockey Union.
(Nov. 13, 2017)