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[2013 Experts thumb] Every week, fans of Responsible Sports write in with questions about parenting, coaching and youth sports scenarios which they encounter in youth and high school sports. The questions are posted in the Ask the Experts forum and Responsible Sports then reaches out to their experts to help these parents or coaches.
Visit the Ask the Expert archive or join the conversation on the Responsible Sports Facebook page today!
Here is an example of one of our latest questions from a Responsible Coach who wrote to our panel of experts to ask:
"I am the new coach at a school with a very weak program. The number one problem we had this season was with attendance/tardiness. I have a good idea of how to clearly define the expectations. I struggle with consequences. I want to find something other than holding them out of practice or some kind of conditioning punishment." Jim, a concerned coach
We asked one of our Responsible Sports experts to weighed in on Jim’s question. Eric Eisendrath, Positive Coaching Alliances’ Lead Trainer in the Boston and New York Areas had this advice to offer:
"Thank you for taking the time to write. My first suggestion would be to begin your practice with "something fun." So often we begin (at least in the kids' minds) with drills and other activities and save scrimmaging for the end as a reward. I have found it helpful, once everyone has stretched (thus avoiding injury), to begin with some type of shooting drills, Power Play, Man Advantage situations. Once late arriving kids see that the other players are getting to shoot etc, they tend to throw their equipment on as fast as possible.
I would strongly resist the urge to use conditioning as punishment. Being highly conditioned is critical to team performance. The steps taken to become fit should be embraced, not thought of as punishment. Sprints and pushups etc. are activities designed to "help us in the fourth quarter or second half"; not because we are late or misbehaving. You really want to attach an appreciation for hard work and conditioning, as opposed to linking it to a negative emotion.
Finally, instead of looking to "punish" the players who are late; work to "reward" the players who are on time, and doing the things you ask of them. When you announce your starting lineup, have it filled with the players who are on time. Reward the behavior you want, and through extinction, the behavior you don't want (IE tardiness and unexcused absence) will eventually disappear.”
Are you a coach or parent who has a youth sports question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us on Facebook and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on Facebook.com/ResponsibleSports.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.
Tag(s): Players & Parents