Are hockey coaches more approachable these days then their predecessors or are they as stand-offish as ever when it comes to communicating to their players and parents?
I don’t know the answer to that question, and to be brutally honest, I’m not sure anyone does.
You see perception and history plays a massive role in being approachable.
Far too many great coaches have left the sport for being approachable. Yes it’s true. You see their efforts to be approachable and transparent has led to hockey crazed parents to ruin any semblance of transparency. I think we all know who “those” hockey parents are. Far too many coaches open themselves up only to get burned. That’s where the history comes into play. Past experiences ruin future interactions.
In this case perception appears in many forms, but “those” hockey parents also cause this to occur. They see the coach talking with other players or parents and automatically assume the coach is playing favourites. Word travels fast and the coach withdraws any communication at that point because of perception.
Perception and history has ruined the approachability of many a coach.
Transparency creates divisions so coaches steer as far away from that as possible. All the talking and communication happens within, the messages to the players are unclear , not consistent leaving parents in the dark due to the past issues of a small percentage of people which is a real shame.
Simply put, coaches are scared to be approachable.
They are scared to be raked over the coals by uneducated crazed hockey parents and sadly they are right.
The perception behind transparency and approachability all revolves around ice time.
That’s the real reason coaches want nothing to do with communicating to parents or players alike.
It’s like a communication standoff.
The coaches want no part of it, the players want to know what they can improve on and why they aren’t getting an opportunity in different situations and the parents want their kid to play more.
No one wants to flinch first, because the coach knows it’s going to be about ice time, the parent is upset, but realizes that it will put them in the coaches dog house and the player is scared shitless to approach the coach.
You see the player is being harped on by the parent and the coach. The player has no where to go they are caught in the middle with no one to talk to.
Could you imagine if the player has an agent, then the agent gets involved, what a shitshow that would be.
So how could this all change?
How could this all go away?
Well to be honest with you, it would take everyone involved to let their guard down a little to see everyone’s take on the situation.
It would take a special coach to navigate it, but it can be done. To be brutally honest I came out of the traditional model of “I’m the coach, you’re the player, you play and I coach.”
I’m the coach, you’re the parent, you parent and I coach,” model.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t approachable. That didn’t mean I didn’t communicate, but there were times where I pulled out my cell phone and pretended to be talking to someone leaving the rink to avoid “those” discussions with parents after practices or games.
The 24 hour rule was always in place in the teams I was associated with and it was there to protect the coach and the parent.
I guess it all comes back to communication. Looking back on it now, I was approachable, but I had to pick and choose, which isn’t the greatest, because I was scared. I was the scared young coach.
The lines of communication should always be open good or bad, but everyone involved should be in it for one thing, to make the player and young person better.
I guess that’s where the lines get crossed and the water gets extremely murky, everyone believes it perceives they are in it for all the right reasons.
Let’s change the perception, let’s change history, all it takes is one coach, one player and one parent group.
Why can’t we all be more approachable?