A great coach can make all the difference in a child’s hockey experience. The best coaches strike the right balance between encouraging kids to have fun and teaching them the discipline and skills they need to succeed both on and off the ice.
James Wansbrough of Aurora, Ont., has coached his son’s team to two straight appearances in the provincial finals. Here’s what he focuses on when he’s behind the bench.
“That’s where the strength of any team comes from: getting along with others, respecting each other and working together. It’s not about finding one superstar and getting him to do all the work.”
“I want the kids to come to the arena early and be properly dressed. They have to be ready mentally and physically. It’s good preparation for the working world.”
“I didn’t choose a captain for my team. Instead, I told the kids, ‘I want every one of you to step up and be a leader. You’ve all got valuable things to contribute.’ I wanted them to take ownership, because it’s their team, not mine.”
Learning from your mistakes
“I got thrown out of one game last year for yelling at a referee. After the game, I went to the kids and said, ‘Did that help the team? No, it was wrong.’ You have to be big enough to admit when you make a mistake.”