Building Relationships

We hear a lot about relationships between coaches and players and how they help build winning teams. Carolina Hurricanes’ head coach Rod Brind’Amour was quoted as saying “I think coaching has become more about the way you relate to players than it is about what you’re actually teaching them.”

What is great about this statement is that it applies at all levels of hockey, not just at the professional level. But I think it applies even further as you move down the ladder into juniors, and even more so into youth hockey. At these levels, you’re not only building a relationship and gaining trust with a player, but you’re doing the same with their family. At the youth level especially, I think this parent/coach relationship is often overlooked and causes rifts in teams, players, and eventually can cost the team on the ice.

In youth hockey, players read off their parents. When our seasons start, I like to share an article with parents about why they should not talk bad about the coach in front of their player. It sets the wrong tone and players believe what their parents say. However, a coach needs to do more than simply ask that parents don’t disagree with them in front of their kids.

Instead, coaches needed to build a relationship with the family that is based on trust and realistic expectations. I have found that in these cases, if a parent sees their kid moved down a line, or their favorite position changes, they know the coach is doing this for reasons they understand. Perhaps the parent already knows if their child doesn’t skate hard, they will be moved down, or if a center won’t backcheck, they will be moved to wing.

Read more at: The Hockey Think Tank