The game is supposed to be fun and what makes the game fun? Scoring goals. Skating fast, handling the puck, making passes are so we can score goals. But, each one of those actions are little victories that should be enjoyed and highlighted.
Attitude and mindset is everything. Currently, we are fighting to keep our composure. Outbursts of anger or frustration are unacceptable because of the energy it creates among teammates and how it affects their mentality and performance. We have to understand people’s actions by what they are thinking, and we can influence them to perform at their best.
Talking back… The kids are at the point in their lives where hormones are flowing and feel the need to justify each one of their actions. I encourage players to talk to me and voice themselves if they don’t understand something or have another perspective to add. But, hearing a whiny complaint is nails on a chalkboard that arouses an immediate urge to stop them and change the tonality of their voice. Speak up when you see things differently. Speak up when you don’t understand something. Speak calmly and confidently.
Our first game was really amazing because we had great spacing, a lot of speed, and a lot of passes. The amazing part was skating with the puck on our stick and our eyes up scanning the environment. The most that I can ask of an eight-year-old is to skate with their eyes out and make decisions based on what they see. And, we were making really good decisions with the puck and identifying when teammates were open and when they were not.
Pressuring the puck was good but can better identify when we need to offer puck support. In front of our own net, the D doesn’t just stand there. We stand there to cover the opposing team. I ask one simple question, can the puck carrier of the opposing team score a goal below our goal line? They generally answer, no. And follow-up by asking, how is the other team going to score? They generally answer the person who is in a position for a good shot. Ahhhhhh. If I teach them how to read and react then I will be able to make decisions based on one on the environment. I want them to think and use their intelligence to evaluate the environment and make decisions based on what they see whether they are attacking or defending.