How to Ensure Your Child Has a Great Coach

how_to_ensure_a_great_coach_postThe following article was posted as a reader comment in response to our recent Q&A article titled “How Do We Get Better Coaching in Youth Sports?” It offered such great advice, we thought it would be beneficial for our entire readership. As a thank you for sharing his advice, HockeyShot.com is giving Tom a gift certificate to HockeyShot.com. If you have advice for how to improve the youth hockey experience, please click here. If your idea is selected, we will reward you with a free prize.



Parents need to expect more from their associations in the pursuit of coaching excellence. I have coached under four different hockey directors and found each of their interaction, education, communication and coach training grossly inadequate. It is simply a matter of more effort and better leadership.

First, the association leadership should decide what traits they want in their coaches and charge the league director with getting that accomplished. For example, do you want a competitive program or one whose philosophy is to have fun and learn the game? Those traits need to be communicated with parents, so their expectations are in line with the association’s, or they can choose to go elsewhere.

There is a real misnomer that the best coaches must be extremely experienced at hockey. While that can help, especially a beginning coach, it really should be low on the priorities for coach selection. Let’s face it, there are a tremendous number of players in all sports that are in their respective Hall Of Fame, but are horrible coaches. The same can be said at the youth level, with former youth, junior and college players. Keep in mind that some of the best coaches in the history of the NHL would have made terrible youth coaches.

What are important traits for a coach? First, he needs to be dedicated to the sport, kids and upcoming season. He needs to be open minded, and willing to do it the way the association wants it done. He should be constantly attempting to coach better. The association must train him for what they want and then monitor and tutor him as it is needed. This is essential! Too many directors build relationships with coaches and expect them to come in and do their own thing. And all too often, their “thing” is not in line with association expectations.

A level 5 certificate is not necessary, but I do recommend a Level 4 CEP (or equivalent) to coach squirt ages and above. The association’s hockey director must make sure the all coaches are coaching the association’s way.  And this only comes from proper recruiting education, training, mentoring and monitoring - no matter what it says on the coach’s resume. Furthermore, while fathers make fine coaches, it can be a problem with team selection and dynamics. It is up to the hockey director to make sure this is not happening.

Parents - you should expect your hockey director to provide your child with a great coach. It really is his most important job. If he does not do it - get another director.

Editor’s Note: A special thank you to community member Tom, for his permission to reprint this comment. As a thank you for sharing his advice, HockeyShot.com is giving Tom a gift certificate to HockeyShot.com. If you have advice for how to improve the youth hockey experience, please click here. If your idea is selected, we will reward you with a free prize.
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