I was sitting this morning and my mind wandered to my days of coaching hockey! Summer is over and high school starting up again is just around the corner. What does that bring? For us hockey fans – it means another high school season is firing back up. This is the part of the season that every team is busy! They are recruiting players, ordering uniforms, the coaching staff is getting together for laying out the season and the players just unhappy the summer is over. High school hockey is a bit different than house or travel programs – it is all about your school!
Recruiting – this is truly a year round activity.
- At the end of every school year – the coaches, players and parents should spend some time at the middle school’s that feed into their high school providing information. It is amazing how many times (when I was coaching) going to the middle school’s – I heard, “I did not know high school X had a hockey team.” or “Wow, he has always wanted to participate in school sports but really only has played hockey. This is cool.”
- Every high school has the week before school starts – orientation for each grade level to get the id, class schedule and activities. Each year, my teams would sit through each of the four days and answer questions, sell some high school hockey stuff and inform potential players about high school hockey and the program. This is especially good for the freshman class – as that is your new crop of players each year.
Planning for the season – It is never too early to plan. Every new season, comes with new hopes and expectations. Sitting down with the team coaching staff, the booster club and the active parents to lay out the season – is very important. As a coach, getting involvement from the players and parents is extremely important. No coach can do this on the own. Breakdown some of the responsibilities:
- Team Manager – every team needs someone to help organize the parents and players – off the ice. With the high school league – there are monthly meetings that are set up to help team managers keep up on league happenings. Team manager communications to the high school program is very essential to a successful program. Uniforms are a big part of the job, it is really only a once per year – but staying on top of this is critical. Nothing worse than going into your first game without uniforms.
- Water Bottle owner – Sounds a bit lame, but water is very important. When I first started coaching, I used to do this myself. Well, it quickly became a core that would take away time from coaching. If you are waiting to fill the bottles at the rink, you were away from the players. If you did it at home, then you were taking away some of you planning and prep time. Always good to have a volunteer that insures the water bottles are there, clean and filled. One less headache.
- Some coaches like some stats folks or video folks to do some game work. If you want that to be part of your program – great. Make sure that you set it up early and insure that you are using it afterwards. I have seen many coaches take stats and just use it for themselves. I did this one year, and the coaches and players review it after each game. At the end of the season, I asked the players about that experience and they were just not impressed. They felt, it was okay, but that they just did not get enough from it. Video on the other hand. This could be a powerful tool! Showing the good, bad and positioning of game play is helpful to teach. You just have to have very solid equipment and time for all players to attend.
- Booster Club – I have been very fortunate to have a booster club that took care of fund raising or helping out whenever needed. The early years, when I first started – it was a family affair, but after just two years – the booster club just took off. Every year, they plan and put on the golf fund-raiser for the only money that is needed to run the program.
- Coaching staff – every head coach needs a solid set of assistant coaches. Insure that you get a solid set! Work with the coaching staff to set expectations of all the coaches (who has offense, defense, goalies, who steps in as head coach, practice planning and so on), team (review the player list and assess what is needed, develop you planning, execute, reassess and re-plan), and parents (sit down and lay out your expectations to the parents (kick this off as the first meeting).
Amazing, you have done all this – and have yet to take the ice… Not bad! Just think in a short few weeks the players will be signing up, getting excited for the season to start and everyone is looking for a shot at the state title. Everyone has yet to play and everyone is in the hunt! This time of year is very busy, extremely busy, but if you spend the time upfront well, then you will have an easier time later on.