Q: Some of the players on my child's 8U team were intimidated and had second thoughts about coming back for another year of hockey this season. Our last coach was ultra-aggressive and very outspoken. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for handling this?
A: First of all, it's a good Idea for your club to incorporate a list of coaching etiquette guidelines by which all coaches must abide. That sets a consistent foundation for positive, productive coaching throughout the club and it removes any ambiguity about the expectations set forth for coaches.
We all know a positive environment will add to players' love of the game and assist with their development. Remember that coaches are very much like teachers and need to be patient with players, especially at 8U. A coach's job is to motivate children, not coerce them, and develop in them a passion for the game. If you have an over-aggressive coach, or an angry, volatile, punitive coach, speak calmly with your club director or president about your concern. Often times, it's a simple fix, as long as everyone involved uses common sense and addresses the issues in a civilized manner.
The author, Guy "Goose" Gosselin, made his NHL debut with Winnipeg in 1988. He is a two-time United States Olympian and was inducted into the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.