USA Hockey Magazine

September 2019

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O F F W I N G 3 B E Y O N D T H E X ' S A N D O ' S PHOTO FROM USA Hockey Magazine Archives Fun gets a bad rap, especially in the cutthroat world of com- petitive hockey. Kids should always have fun at the rink, but there's a different level of fun at each age. Fun at an 8 & Under practice may be silly games like tag and sharks and minnows. At 14 years old, fun might be a little more serious with drills that are challenging and designed to help players develop a specific habit or skill. Even at the highest levels, the best coaches are the ones who make it fun for their players. Before taking the job with USA Hockey, I was a college coach for 19 years. Don't kid yourself and think that it's not important to have fun at the college level. There's no way you're going to make it through your season if you don't make it fun com- ing to the rink every day. With an 82-game regular season schedule, the grind of playing in the NHL can take its toll. So, when it comes to practices, 20 // SEPTEMBER 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM 3 2 1 When It Comes To Coaching, Fun Is Not A Four-Letter Word Even at the highest levels, the best coaches are the ones who make it fun for their players. with school and other activities that they'll blow off practice if they don't feel like it's worth their time. Creating a station-based practice with a few small area games mixed in keeps players engaged and continuously mov- ing. It's not only fun, it creates the perfect environment for skill development. No matter what level you're coaching at, if you can create that culture of fun and a level of learning that challeng- es your players and keeps them engaged and enthused about com- ing to the rink, that 's when you really have something. That 's the sign of a great coach. P W h e n t a l k i n g a b o u t t h e benefits of the American Development Model, we tend to throw the word " f u n " a r o u n d a l ot . S o m e p e o p l e hear that and think 'that's all the ADM is about, having fun." I would argue that the ADM is about fun, but it's age-appropriate fun. And it's high-performance fun. And that's why it's such an effective system of player development. coaches create drills that are com- petitive, challenging and, most of all, fun. It doesn't matter what level you're coaching, you have to make it exciting to come to the rink. If a kid feels like, "I'm missing out if I don't go to practice," you're doing something right as a youth hockey coach. To instill that level of pas- sion and commitment in your players, you have to bring the energy every time you come to the rink. If you're off your game or act like you don't give a damn, or if you show up for practice and have no energy, your players will pick up on that. Kids have so much going on in their lives 4 5 6 7 g By Joe Bonnett

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