Players be loud and communicate ...

I've always been vocal as a hockey player. I mean I was loud .. real loud. Loud as in you'd hear me pretty much wherever you were in the rink (on the ice, in the stands, or on the bench ... you get the picture). I wasn't loud in an obnoxious way, like chirping opponents, though I confess I did do a little of that too lol! I also wasn't loud because I wanted the puck all the time. My vocal prowess was more to help my teammates make better plays and to watch their backs..

Watch any higher level hockey game, high school, juniors, college, or pros and you will hear constant chatter amongst players. When a center is open in the slot in the offensive zone you may hear something like "open ... slot, slot." Additionally, when a forward is battling in the corner and wins the puck you may hear his or her defensemen call "point, point" because they are open for a shot and want to alert their teammate to .get them the puck, In the defensive zone you may hear a goalie, defenseman, or backchecking forward yell out something like "one on you" to warn a defensemen/teammate of an oncoming forechecker if they have their back to the play. Conversely, a teammate may want to let another teammate know they have no pressure on them or plenty of time by yelling something like "you got time" or "no on on you"

Bergeron communicating faceoff strategy to Marchy.

This constant communication and ability to be loud is essential for players to develop, not only to make themselves better but also for the benefit of the team. As a coach, whether in practice or in a game (after a player shift) I am always reinforcing to my players to be loud and to communicate. The game moves fast and players are in small area battles (under duress) all over the ice so they can't always clearly see the best available play - getting input from a teammate's communication (being a second set of eyes for your teammates) can help them stay a step ahead of the pressure or guide them to making the right play.

As illustrated in the video below Brenden Dillon, formerly of the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals, and current Winnipeg Jet uses lots of communication and vocalization to help his teammates make plays and be aware of what's going on. He displays the kind of communication that each and every player needs to bring to the rink whenever they step on the ice.

Specifically watch the 0:37-0:49 second mark of the video, as well as the 0:50-1:12 mark, the 1:49-1:57 mark and the 2:03-2:26 mark.

The challenge for a coach (or parent) is that not every player is comfortable being vocal. For some being loud and assertive is second nature, whereas for others that may not be the case. However, much like in life, there are always hurdles to overcome and mountains to climb and good coaching and continuous reinforcement can help a player learn to be more vocal and a better communicator. So as a coach (or a parent) I always suggest reminding your players to be vocal before every practice and game. Additionally during the game if there are moments where a player could have vocalized and didn't it's always good to use that as a teaching moment and reinforce how being vocal in that situation may have led to a better outcome.

Being an effective communicator and being loud (assertive loud, not obnoxious loud) is a skill that will translate off ice as well. Kids that are vocal tend to be respected by their peers and looked to as a leader and they are always heard as opposed to those that take a back seat.

Cheers and keep enjoying the game, whether you're a player, coach or spectator !!!

Coach Kevin.