How To Influence Your Way To Victory – The Five Philosophies Of Coaching

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One of many things I learned in my coaching seminars was how we give too much direction to our children as parents and coaches. And after listening to a podcast, they explained perfectly how to implement boundaries with teaching points. Allowing players to use their imagination and creativity to problem-solve and let the players come up with the answers, that we try to get across. When bringing this theory into real-life scenarios with one of my camps, I could see the results almost immediately with how much more motivated they were and the boost of teamwork and communication. Parents thought I had brainwashed their kids because they went home obsessing over the game.

When coaching my son’s U11 team in 2021-2022, we went half the season without a win. I put a lot of blame on myself as the coach for the losses, and it wasn’t until a year later when a dad from the team told me how much I did a great job teaching teamwork over individualization. While other coaches used their best players to dominate on the scoreboard, I stuck to the game plan of teaching the game of hockey as a whole. 

When the players are so young, we should teach them how to become the “best third-line player.” So their game will transfer and be sustainable at the next level. At a younger age, the kids that grow the fastest get all the goals. Young players must develop all their skills so that when scoring doesn’t come as easy, players can still compete at higher levels. 


Losing is a part of all sports, and it’s a part of life. Like anything, coaches need to teach that there is always a winner and a loser. And when we do lose, how do we as a team respond? I see it too much when players drop their heads, responding with negative body language. Telling their parents that they can’t wait for the season to end so they can be with their spring hockey team. Or move on to something that the player feels is better.

Instead, players collectively should understand why they lost and strategize how to prevent the same mistakes from happening in the next game. 

Coaches can also help build resilience in practice by giving players unfair situations designed to find ways to win. Fun ways to include this is using small area games with an odd-man rush, giving a team a head start on a drill, etc. The purpose of practice has gotten lost somewhere along the way. Coaches work on individual skills too much and don’t practice game situations. We should be trying to Replicate the same pressure of “being down by a goal short-handed” during practice. It makes it easier for the team to respond during a game.


The number one path to team success is creating a culture at the rink and at home. Players seeing other players at home give them a completely different perspective of their relationship.

When developing deep relationships, you begin to love each other, look out for each other and play for each other. This is scientifically proven to be a common denominator between great teams and having great things happen.

As coaches, we should focus on three relationships for building a bulletproof culture.

1. Player-to-Player – Having players spend time outside the rink is more important than the time at the rink. It gives them the ability to have players see someone in their atmosphere. Meeting their families will help with a visual of each other’s home life and allows them to understand one another as a person. 

An example of a great relationship tool is by playing the game of 4. Split your team into four groups, and within a month (once a week), the group is suggested to get together at a different house at each gathering. Continue to switch the groups throughout the season to allow everyone to get to know one another outside of hockey.

2. Player-To-Coach

Relationships are a two-way street, and the big question is, how well do you know your players, and how well do they know you?

The old-school coaching mentality was an authorized distention that I’m your coach, and you listen to me. 

The old-school coaching techniques have proven, time and time again, to show less motivation, carelessness, and repel. But by using the power of shared stories, you have a better chance to connect to the individual on another level. Some coaches are coaching because the hockey director was short of volunteers, but there is a good chance the coach played hockey growing up and has experienced something similar to what the players are going through.

3. Coach-To-Parents

Year after year the bond between coach and parents widens, and it continues as my kids get older. Coaches put themselves on a pedestal over the parents. It shouldn’t matter what age or level your player is for parents to have that comfort level to go to the coach to help parents better understand the coach’s teaching points. 

On the other hand, parents can get lost in living through their kids, hold higher expectations, and be aggressive with training, ultimately causing a lack of interest and motivation within the athlete. 

To create the best relationship with parents and coaches should focus on collaboratingbeing transparent, and understanding parent expectations. The more the parents can see where the coach is coming from, the better chance they will ask questions, learn, and watch the magic happen.

Relentless Repetitions

The power of repetition isn’t communicated to our youth enough, and this is because most adults don’t understand it either.

We always were told or convinced ourselves at some point that hard work equals success. Well…. I call bull shit! 

Hard work alone will leave you empty-handed and exhausted. A great example is when I was attending college, I failed my first year of the apprentice program. And this wasn’t because I physically didn’t know what I was doing, because I did! But when it came to the classroom, I wasn’t prepared enough. 

For the final exam of my first year attending college, I spent until 2 AM studying for a test. I woke up the next day thinking I was ready to rock. And BOOM!!!! failed!!. Hard work with no direction will get you no further ahead than you were before. 

Hard work with a clear goal, and shared values, keep you always prepared with the end in mind. I tell my son that shooting a thousand pucks all in one night is a waste. It creates fatigue, and once you reach the 500th puck, you lose form and create bad habits. And now you’re just putting in wasted time by overreaching. HOWEVER! Shooting 100 or 200 good-quality shots a night over a long period will always keep you game ready. Consistently working at your craft will always keep you prepared for the big game, so you never have to “study” the night before!

In the moment 

Being able to be in the moment, enjoy the moment, and being able to focus on the here and now.

Is a concept that is difficult to teach kids, especially since adults have troubles. But building that mental toughness to find ways to let go of past mistakes and not stress about the future.

A great example of this just happened to our team last night. One of my players entered the opponent’s zone versus their two defencemen. Trying to teach our young wingers to do a fish hook or cut back off to the boards and allow your other forwards to catch up to allow for more options. He does the exact opposite. He tries to deek both of their defensemen. He beats the first defenseman but then gets slowed down by the other defencemen. Therefore, both of their players overpower him and take the puck away. 

This player comes back to the bench, whining about how they held him and hooked him and blah blah blah. One of two things comes to mind. If he were to do the right thing and held possession of the puck to create more options, non of this would have never happened. The second thing, he held onto that stress for the rest of that shift. It was clear he lacked effort after having a bad offensive drive. Stress can paralyze your decision-making!

It’s easy to stress over the past, so focus on the here and now. How you react to past events will shape your future.

Control what you control, meaning, when you hit the ice, play with meaning, get in shooting lanes, and win the battles at the blue lines. Be focused on this shift right now and nothing else.

If you have a bad shift, a bad game, or a bad month. The more you think about it, the more it will consume your current actions and create more of what you think about. 


“You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you have been.” Maya Angelou.

The one thing we don’t do enough is reflect in each game. Games are teaching points where we can learn from our mistakes and know what we did well and where we need to improve. I noticed on my oldest son’s team last season that because they lost a lot of their games, the players wanted to fast-forward to their extended teams or spring leagues. Instead, they should have been learning from their losses and designing a road map to help them get better as a team.

Reflection is similar to our last philosophy, taking a moment to take ownership of your actions. Understand why something has happened and how you, as an individual, can prevent it from reoccurring next time.

As coaches, we should always lean on bringing our players back to their “why.” Why are they playing hockey? This answer should be “Because it’s fun!”  Without having a clear understanding of why they show up to the rink every day, the purpose of their hard work can get lost along the way, and affect their overall performance. Doing something because you enjoy it will spike a player’s performance, more than anything. 

With reflection, you get self-awareness and authenticity. So as an individual, you can build self-awareness to improve yourself in the process. Players find themselves self-analyzing themselves based on what other people think of them, which doesn’t have a direct solution and takes you down some back roads.

At the end of the day, players can see through when you are not being truthful or trying to be someone else. Remember it is not what you know that matters, it is what you can get your team to do that does. So, be authentic, otherwise, you just may lose them. 


I hope these five philosophies help parents and coaches with how they lead your team for the upcoming season. Always remember if it feels focused or unnatural, your players will see right threw you. Be yourself, have fun with the players, and I promise the magic will fall into place.

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