Sports are a microcosm of life. We have all heard this saying before, and for those of us that love sports, we know this to be true. If you break down any game, season, or career, you will find many parallels to life: ups, downs, adversity, setbacks, defeats, hard work, heartbreak, triumphs and more.
Looking at the current state of the world, you could say that we are all facing adversity.
The Covid-19 / Coronavirus has shut down the sporting world and life as we know it for the time being. None of us expected to be in this situation. It is an extremely unsettling time that is riddled with fear and uncertainty. But in many ways, it's a pause button. An opportunity to reflect, reset, and reprioritize. Just like all adversity, going through this will make us stronger. We will get through this.
Some families and individuals will be impacted more than others during this time. So it is important to be aware that even though we are all going through this together, we need to look out for each other. Check-in with your community and with those that are close to you. Help where you can.
After this is all over, what will you be able to say you did during the shutdown? Some of us will be on the front lines fighting the virus. Others will be at home. For those of us at home, did you sit on the couch and watch everything on Netflix? Or were you able to use this time to reflect on what is important to you? Did you help out your family? Stay involved at work? Did you do something that you always wanted to do but never had the time? Maybe you even used the time to grow as a person and a coach?
If you do have the time, the team at IHS has put together a list of 12 Post Season Activities for Hockey Coaches that will help fill your time with growth and purpose during the shutdown.
1. Prioritize & Recharge
This is hands down the most important activity on this list. Most youth hockey coaches have families and full-time jobs. It is extremely hard to juggle all three during a hockey season. Take this stoppage to focus on your priorities. Take care of your family, those closest to you, and yourself. Do your best to relax and recharge. This could mean not thinking about hockey at all. After you have recharged and want to think about hockey, dive into our list below.
Take out a piece of paper, or your laptop and spend at least 5 minutes writing. Do it in a setting that you will enjoy. Fire up a nice cup of coffee, or grab a cold one and start to reflect & write. Spend more time if you are enjoying it. Feel free to write on any topic you want, but below are a few questions you can use to get you started:
- What has this shutdown made you appreciate?
- What are you most excited to do after the shutdown?
- How could you make the most of this shutdown?
- What are 2 highlights of the past hockey season?
- What are 2 lowlights of the past hockey season?
- What 3 aspects of your coaching were you proud of this year?
- What are 3 things you can improve on as a coach?
Your answers to the questions above will give you framework and ideas for what you should focus on and where you can grow.
3. Check-in With Your Players
We all know how much a coach can positively (or negatively) impact a player's life. It could mean the world to a player if they got a phone call, text, or email from a coach checking in to see how they and their family are doing during this time. Many kids are missing their friends and the comradery that hockey brings them. Not all kids have a perfect home life and this extended time at home away from school & sports could be very hard on certain players. Reach out to your team to show that you care. Encourage the teammates to stay connected and check in with each other.
Depending on the skill and age level of your team, you can provide your team with at-home stickhandling, or bodyweight exercises to keep active. We have a variety of off-ice resources here that can be shared for free.
4. Write Down Your Goals
What personal goals do you have during this break from hockey? Write them down! You cannot make progress towards a goal if it is not defined.
Write down personal, family, and coaching goals. Make the goals attainable and put this list somewhere so you can see it every day. Maybe in your bedroom, the bathroom mirror, or refrigerator. It is helpful to also write how you are going to achieve each goal and WHY you want to achieve it. If you really want to make progress, tell someone close to you your goal(s) and make them hold you accountable. It can be as simple as calling one family member per day to check in with them, or getting outside for 20 minutes a day. Or the goals can be as lofty as re-painting your house or writing an hour every day so you can finish that book you wanted to write (but never had the time to do it).
5. Read Coaching Books
This break is a perfect time to invest in yourself and read. The books do not need to be hockey related. Great coaching lessons can be taken from a variety of authors and topics.
It might be tough to get a hardcopy of a book during this time, but you should be able to download the digital or audio version of most books. The audio version of the book is perfect to put on while you are driving, working out, working around the house, going for a walk, run, etc. Realize that learning valuable coaching lessons will not only improve you as a coach on the ice, but they will also help you grow in your personal and work life.
We polled our IHS community on social media for book recommendations. The most popular coaching book recommendations we received are:
- The Talent Code - Daniel Coyle
- Range - David Epstein
- Legacy - James Kerr
- Behind the Bench - Craig Custance
- Every Moment Matters - John O'Sullivan
- Start With Why - Simon Sinek
- You Win In The Locker Room First - Jon Gordon
6. Listen to Coaching Podcasts
Another great way to learn during this time is to listen to podcasts. They are free and there are so many incredible ones out there. A few of our favorite hockey-related ones are listed below. Haven't listened to one before? Click one of the links below, and find a topic or guest that interests you and press play! Most of these podcasts are available on a variety of podcast platforms like iTunes, Google Play, Spotify & more.
- The Hockey Think Tank - Topher Scott & Jeff Lovecchio
- Behind The Gear - Dwayne Blais
- The Skill Factor - Ted Suihkonen & Trevor DiCarlo
- The Full 60 - Craig Custance
- Let's Go Hockey - Danny Heath & Pete Kamman
- Glass & Out - Kelvin Cech & Aaron Wilbur
7. Watch Hockey & Coaching Movies
A fun way to get inspired to become a better coach is to watch remarkable stories of past teams or athletes. We polled our coaches to hear what they thought. Some of the recommendations are listed below:
- In Search of Greatness - Top athletes, including Wayne Gretzky, Pelé, Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan, explore the importance of nature versus nurture in determining athletic ability. Great find from Brant Berglund.
- Miracle - a movie based on the 1980 Men's Olympic Hockey Team.
Free Web Videos:
- As Fast As Her - the story of Kendall Coyne, an Olympic gold medalist and a role model for the next generation of female hockey players.
- The Road Through Warroad - the story of one small town in Minnesota that has produced many Olympian and NHL players.
- The Secrets of Hockey in Sweden - a short film highlighting hockey culture in Sweden, which is very different than North America.
- Names On The Cup - an NHL documentary exploring the joy and pain of winning and losing the Stanley Cup.
- Our Game: A World Junior Documentary - a series that gives and inside look into Team Canada on their quest for gold at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
- Dream State: Season IV - an inside look inside high school hockey in the state of Minnesota.
Are there others that should be on the list? Contact us to let us know!
8. Create or Organize Hockey Drills
This extra time can be used to create new drills & games and organize your favorite ones. You can browse our database of drills, or there are hundreds of new drills posted online on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc... Some of the drills are noteworthy and some are worth forgetting. Take time to organize your own drills that you loved from the past season and research new ideas for next time you are on the ice. How can you improve your coaching and practice plans from last year? How can you make practices something you and your team always looks forward to? How can you incorporate more small area games?
Whether it is a photo, PDF, video or social post, make a note of it and organize it for future reference. If you have an IHS account, simply click "Upload Drill" under the "Create" tab and you can easily keep a digital drill book of all of your favorite hockey drills.
9. Stay Active
Just as it is important for players to keep active during this break, it is just as important for coaches and adults to keep active.
Turn on some great music, a podcast, or audiobook and spend some time moving each day. It could be a walk around the neighborhood or a workout in your house. Whatever it is, making sure that you move for at least 20 minutes each day and get away from the desk or couch. It will be good for your body, mind and soul. Especially during a time like this.
10. Connect With Coaches & Past Teammates
All coaches are in the same boat right now and many are at home in front of their phone or computer instead of at the rink. Take this time to reach out to coaches you know, and connect with ones that you have always wanted to. Some of the best coaches on the planet are putting out free content on social media right now. Not only can you learn from their content but you can also follow and connect with them during this time.
The stoppage is also a great time to rekindle old hockey connections. Reach out to your former coaches and teammates. This little gesture will be great for your sanity and great for theirs. Who knows what a conversation with an old teammate or coach can lead to.
11. Watch Hockey With A Purpose
Miss hockey? There are a variety of ways you can continue to watch the game. You can even take a crack at learning or breaking down hockey games, systems, or highlights.
How? It is easier than you think. After a big play or a highlight happens, rewind it a few times and write down what you notice. Chances are, there are some little plays or situations that happened just before the notable highlight took place. You will start to spot trends and coachable moments in the game that you can teach your players. You can even brainstorm ways to practice a particular skill or design a small area game to help reinforce it.
To see two great examples of breaking down plays, check out Topher Scott of Hockey Think Thank (view his analysis on Ryan O'Reilly's Puck Protection) and Brian Keane of Prodigy Hockey (view his analysis on Cale Makar Defensive Zone Retrieval).
If you find any memorable plays that you want to share with your players, save the video, write down coaching notes they should pay attention to, and share it with them. You can reference this list for years to come. Even though no teams are playing hockey right now, there are a variety of ways to watch hockey games immediately:
- Watch video of your own team's games - this can be a therapeutic way to dive back into your past season and make notes on what you and your players can improve on.
- Watch NHL TV for free - currently, NHL TV is allowing people to stream any games that were played during the 2019 - 2020 season for free. Learn more.
- YouTube - obviously there is a limitless amount of content on YouTube. To start, check out these videos:
12. Plan For The Next Season
As you go through the 12 activities mentioned above, jot down important lessons and thoughts that you would like to take with you the next time you are on the ice with your team. Ideas, feelings and thoughts can be fleeting, so it is important to write down things you want to remember. Writing them down is a great way to reinforce them, and it will allow you to go back and reference the lessons.
It is important to remind yourself that the feeling of uncertainty that Covid-19 / Coronavirus has placed on the world will eventually be replaced by normalcy and routine (easier said than done). How can you take this current state of uncertainty and grow from it? Write down important lessons and always remember to reference activity # 1 whenever you are feeling overwhelmed (Prioritize & Recharge).
Most importantly, care of your family, those closest to you and yourself during this time.
- The IHS Team