How Do You Deal with a Negative Coach?
Deb said: My answer to your question is to change the focus. Unless you happen to live in a town with only one team, hockey players can generally choose which teams they want to try for (or in the case of rec., sign-up with). If you already know a certain coach's demeanor is not a good fit for your child, don't try for his team. Let me also point out, we are not talking about abusive coaches here, just one with a negative personality. I propose that what may be a "negative" and non-motivating approach for one child may be exactly the style another child strives under.
We like to talk about hockey as being a fun game that teaches life skills to kids. Could there be a life lesson in learning to cope with a negative coach? I say, “Yes!” After all, as adults we have to deal with all kinds of personalities, including the “negative” ones, in our daily lives whether at work or in our neighborhoods. I suggest parents maintain open lines of communication with their kids to help them to learn to deal with the disagreeable personality.
None of us wants our children to be stuck in uncomfortable situations, but with encouragement from you, it could be a real boost to the emotional development of your child. Help him to recognize that people have different temperaments and, as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, it is just all a part of what makes life interesting. Help them to look for the things that give him joy at the rink, such as the friendships, the skillful plays, the thrill of competition, the physical training and more. And, reassure them that if the coach remains a bad fit after the child has met his team commitment for the season, he may try out for a different coach the next time.
As for your own dealing with a negative coach, we do not always know what other people are going through. When possible encourage and thank your coach for their efforts, show concern for his troubles and try to find something to praise in him. Most importantly, keep a genuine smile on your own face and it might just become contagious!
Jeremy shared: Communication FIRST! If your player's coach doesn't understand the situation, they cannot fix it. It is also imperative that you remove your emotions from the situation before you communicate with the coach. Going into a discussion with a level head will give you the answers you need, anger and other strong emotions will only cloud your better judgment.
Once you have communicated with your coach, there is some self-evaluation that needs to occur within your family. Does the solution meet your satisfaction? What can we do as our player's support to better the situation? Is the coach's solution to your problem good for your player and good for your team?
Hockey is a very unique sport in that it is as much an individual sport as it is a team sport. Everything your player does contributes to or hurts the team. Prepare to ask yourself "Is this sport really for us?" If there is any confusion, I would suggest sitting with your child and asking what they really want to get from their hockey experience.
The important thing to remember is that every family has options. Unfortunately, some of those options are not pleasant. If there are multiple teams in your age division, moving teams is an option. If your child's age division has no other teams to move to, your options are to either tolerate the "bad coach" for a season, or leave hockey for a season, or for good. I am not one to start my child into a season only to pull them out because of conflict. I personally think doing so would send a horrible message.
Board members are always interested in hearing from their members. What Board members do not want to hear is petty complaining, but well thought out ideas and objections to the direction their organizations are headed. There definitely is a chain of command and each club is different. Be sure to ask questions first, complain after listening to the answers, and remember that we are all here for our children first and our teams a very close second.
Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Deb Gonzalez and Jeremy Colarelli for their winning answers. As a thank you for their input, HockeyShot.com is giving both Deb and Jeremy a $50 gift certificate. Want to win this week's prize? Be sure to click here for the latest Grow the Game contest.