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If you want more ice time, change the coach's perception of your game.

Like any sports coach, hockey coaches form players' opinions through careful observation over time. Every action on the ice during games or practices contributes to this assessment. Coaches scrutinize players' performances, looking for strengths and weaknesses in various aspects of their game.

Once a coach has categorized a player's strengths and weaknesses, they create a mental blueprint of that player's identity on the ice. This could manifest as recognizing a player who tends to panic under pressure and makes poor passes or who shies away from physical contact and lacks aggressiveness in forechecking. Additionally, a player who consistently demonstrates slow speed or struggles with fitness is pegged with specific limitations or labeled as lacking commitment.

Coaches can quickly figure out who you are as a player

Unfortunately, once this mental picture is imprinted in the coach's mind, it can be challenging to alter, particularly if it's negative. Coaches rely on their perceptions to decide player roles, ice time, and game strategies. A player seen as unreliable, lacking in certain skills, or possessing detrimental habits may find themselves sidelined or given limited opportunities to showcase their abilities.

To break free from a coach's limiting narrative, a player must take proactive steps to demonstrate growth and improvement. This starts with a heightened awareness of their weaknesses and a commitment to addressing them. Whether through focused training, seeking feedback from coaches, or studying game footage to pinpoint areas for development, the player must show dedication to overcoming their limitations.

Consistency is key in reshaping the coach's perception. By consistently demonstrating progress and actively working on weaknesses, the player can gradually shift the coach's perception of their abilities. This might involve showcasing improved decision-making under pressure, displaying newfound aggressiveness in physical play, or demonstrating enhanced speed and endurance on the ice.


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Ultimately, changing the coach's perception is crucial for a player's advancement within the team. No flashy stickhandling or highlight-reel plays will outweigh the coach's concerns about reliability and effectiveness in crucial game situations. Only by proving themselves as dependable, well-rounded players can they earn the trust and confidence of the coaching staff, leading to increased opportunities and responsibilities on the ice.

Coaches reward players that play smart, aggressive and limit their mistakes

Players determined to improve and change their coach's perception of them should actively seek feedback on their performance. This involves having open and honest conversations with coaches about areas where they are perceived as limited. Here's why this is important and how players can approach it effectively:

  1. Understanding Perception: Players may not always be aware of how coaches perceive them. Asking for feedback provides valuable insight into the coach's perspective and allows players to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Identifying Areas for Improvement: Players can pinpoint areas of their game that need development by asking specific questions about their limitations. These could include technical skills, decision-making abilities, physical conditioning, or mental toughness.

  3. Creating a Development Plan: Players can create a targeted development plan to address their limitations, armed with feedback from coaches. This plan may involve specific drills, exercises, or training techniques designed to improve areas of weakness.

  4. Demonstrating Commitment: By actively seeking feedback and creating a plan for improvement, players demonstrate their commitment to personal growth and development. Coaches are likely to notice and appreciate this proactive approach.

  5. Building Trust and Communication: Open communication between players and coaches fosters trust and understanding within the team. Players willing to engage in constructive dialogue with coaches are more likely to receive support and guidance in their development journey.

When approaching coaches for feedback, players should do so in a respectful and receptive manner. Here are some tips for effectively seeking feedback:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Pick an appropriate time to ask for feedback, such as during a one-on-one meeting with the coach or after a practice session when things are less hectic.

  2. Be Specific: Ask specific questions about areas where you feel you may be limited or where you want to improve. This shows that you have thoughtfully considered your performance and are seeking targeted feedback.

  3. Listen Actively: When receiving feedback, listen attentively and avoid becoming defensive or argumentative. Instead, take notes and ask for clarification to ensure you fully understand the coach's perspective.

  4. Express Willingness to Improve: Communicate your willingness and commitment to improving in the areas highlighted by the coach. This shows that you value their feedback and are dedicated to becoming a better player.

  5. Follow-up: After receiving feedback, follow up with the coach to discuss progress and any additional support or resources needed to facilitate improvement.

By actively seeking feedback and taking proactive steps to address limitations, players can work towards changing their coach's perception and ultimately enhancing their performance (and playing time) on the ice.


Coach Kevin

Like this Article? Then read our article entitled; The Unyielding Meritocracy of Hockey: A Blueprint for Success in Life.

Go to Coach's Corner to read all of our articles.


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