A coach I really respect once shared a fantastic early season off-ice drill with me.
Gather your team in the rink lobby or parking lot. Tell them to do exactly what you say and only what you say.
“Raise your right hand.”
“Now raise your left hand.”
At least 50% of your team will likely drop their right hand and raise their left. But that’s not what you told them to do. So sure, laugh that off, tell them what they did wrong, and start over.
“Raise your right hand.”
“Now raise your left hand.”
“Now drop both hands.”
“Now raise your right hand, then turn 90 degrees to your right, and make counterclockwise circles with your left hand.”
I’m betting 70% of your team will not be able to do this without error. Hilarity will ensue.
By the way, that ‘team’ should be the parents of the kids you’re coaching.
After they’ve all finished laughing about how uncoordinated they are, gently remind them that they’re grown adults who couldn’t follow simple physical movement instructions on dry land. And then even more gently remind them to never, ever criticize their eight or ten or twelve year old hockey player for not quite being able to execute complex on-ice skills at the level of a professional player.
We learn best when we think and feel.
That simple drill accomplishes a lot. First, it’s a great way to impress on parents that developing skills in hockey (or music, or dance, or whatever) may be challenging, but it should be challenging and fun. And it’s effective because it not only makes the parents think, it makes them feel. The lesson will definitely be learned, but you’ll also put a smile on their faces.
Essentially, what you’re giving the parents in that scenario is a combination of intellectual and emotional feedback. You may be pointing out their deficiencies, and giving them something to think about, but you’re doing it in a positive way that connects with them emotionally. Reaching and teaching kids is best done with the same brains / heart combination.
PowerPlayer was designed to help coaches deliver hockey intelligence — the kind of metrics, assessment ratings, and corrective instruction that can help players and parents better understand the development path. But it also delivers hockey humanity — the kind of positive and encouraging comments that let players and parents know their coach really has their back.
We see it every day.
Coaches from Alaska to Connecticut, Quebec to Sweden are using the PowerPlayer platform to make more meaningful, more frequent, and more personal connections with the kids they’re teaching. And because parents have access to that communication, they’re building trust and stronger relationships there too.
We want to help coaches use positive feedback to empower kids and build trust with parents. And we want kids to feel all the emotional positives that come from being supported and recognized for working hard to overcome their personal challenges and reach their goals.
Why? Because every coach, every parent, and every teacher knows that when it comes to human beings — but especially younger human beings — emotion rules. They know that kids who are positively reinforced by the people who surround them tend to be more confident, happy, and energetic, and are much more likely to succeed than those who may have similar skill sets, but who are less emotionally secure.
Simply put, because people learn best when they’re having fun, positivity wins.
Want to get your club or team into the feedback game? Give us a buzz.
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