Preparing for CAHA evaluation weekend, we were feeling really confident about our abilities because we had won the 2019 Chi-Town championship at the AAA 2007 birth year. For the whole month of August, we were preparing for teams we did not know, we did not know if they were good, we did not know if they were bad. All we could do is train hard and prepare to the best of our ability. Creating that imaginative enemy we were about to face.
Having the first few games quite easy was a set back to our progress for AA kids on the brink of playing on AAA teams. When we create the narrative that we are an AAA team, you have to have the work ethic and compete with an AAA type of player and not having the right competition to compete against creates an illusion you are the best and you don’t need to get better. Overconfidence.
Well, our boys found out the hard way what AAA compete looks like. We had a good showing against the Jr Ducks 2007 AAA and competed the whole game. The next day, however, was a good old-fashioned beat down by the Jr. Kings 2007 AAA. During the Spring, we played them in a tournament which ended in a 2-4 L with three of their goals coming from special teams because of stupid penalties on our side. This time around they had something to prove.
Mindset is everything when it comes to the next level. And, the mindset of our players was exposed. Is our mindset: what can my team do for me? Or, what can I do for my team? And when the going gets tough we find out which motive is truly driving and motivating a player. We always have to think about what is best for the team. What can I do better that will benefit the team?
If a player truly aspires to be the best, you must always look inward. Ask, how can I improve? And, how can I influence the people around me? This idea that success will come by critiquing the players on my team is illogical because it creates divisiveness. Success comes from individual ownership of every single action. Individuals have to take ownership of what they can do you better the next time around. Individuals have to take it upon themselves in how they can influence their teammates in their communication and by being an example.
It all started with the arrival time. Only a couple of parents were on time and everyone else was showing up late. It was chaotic to get the kids on the ice and ready to play and set the tone for the jamboree. It’s my job to communicate my routine for the team, I failed. Therefore, the parents didn’t know the reason why I wanted them there at a certain time. Because I did not set the tone with the parents, and parents did not set the tone with the kids, and the kids did not play with the level of competing that it takes to play.
Effort was the primary focus because we were losing races, we were losing battles, not protecting our net, and we did not really care about losing. So, I began taking away the player’s sticks. If a player did not want to put forth the full effort, then there was no reason for them to play with a stick. Let’s say kids started to put forth more effort knowing they might look like a fool for skating around in a game with no stick.
I do not care about winning or losing. But, I care about putting forth their best effort and having fun in the process. What makes the game fun though is scoring goals, passing pucks, playing keep away from the other team. To be able to do any of those things, you have to have the puck. In order to get the puck, you have to win races, have to battle, you have to put forth your best effort.
If you work hard you will get rewarded to be able to do all those things that make the game fun. So, the next time that we play, we are going to make a little game out of attacking the puck. We are going to see who can cause the most turnovers. In practice, we are going to practice skating with pucks, we are going to have raced so they understand the importance of competing.