James Clear: Average Speed

James Clear is a writer that I follow on Twitter. His blog is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone. He focuses on personal development and the path to becoming great. He published a great piece about Average Speed and how it’s about putting in work every day over time.

Read it here: http://jamesclear.com/average-speed

And follow his blog and on Twitter while you’re at it.

Expand Your Horizons

Hockey is a territorial sport. Generally speaking, in coaching circles, there are eastern guys and western guys. Players have a tendency to gravitate towards their home area. People get put into boxes, whether it is major junior, DI, pro, etc.

There is something to be said for the familiarity factor this brings. Coaches know their level and the players that would be successful at their level. Players know their teammates and the other players in the region. Scouts get a feel for the talent level and how those players translate to the next level.

At the same time, there is a major drawback to the territorial nature of hockey. You fail to expand your boundaries. You lose out on other perspectives. You stay comfortable, often never stretching beyond your current worldview. Players from different regions have different styles of play. Coaches from different backgrounds teach the game differently, practice differently and bring a different view of the game. Scouts have different eyes for talent, valuing some attributes more than others.

Hockey offers opportunities for you to reach beyond your territory. It takes initiative and some confidence to get outside of your comfort zone and encounter new ideas. Travel to hockey camps outside of your area. Call coaches from different leagues and tap into their ideas about the game. Challenge yourself and your own worldview on a regular basis.

The more your horizon expands, the more your own game grows.

Kevin Cassese on Building a Program

Kevin Cassese, Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach at Lehigh University spoke at LaxCon 2015 about Building a Program. US Lacrosse was nice enough to post video highlights of his talk on their YouTube page. I highly recommend taking a look at it – some really good stuff in here about culture and program building.


Friday Links

I thought I’d share some articles that I came across this week that I enjoyed:

From the Lansing State Journal on Tom Izzo and his career arc at MSU: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/sports/college/msu/mens-basketball/2015/04/03/inside-izzo-fiery-court-demeanor-match-loyalty/70866556/

From NHL.com discussing goaltenders in practice, as well as the practice habits seen in hockey: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=761029

From the Boston Globe on Rush Offense and how the Senators are capitalizing on quick entries: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/03/29/ottawa-senators-rush-succeed/kGjJGasvyyYNgONknz6JWO/story.html?event=event25

The Confidence of Coaching

How many coaches can you think of that lack self-confidence? How many coaches do you know that publicly show signs of doubt or despair? Not many.

Coaching is a profession built on confidence. As a coach, you have to have confidence in your players, your staff and your team to get the job done every night. You have to have the confidence in yourself to execute your job to the highest level at every opportunity. The confidence that you are doing what is right by everyone involved in your program at any given moment.

Where does this confidence come from? Ultimately, I believe it comes from making decisions, making mistakes and learning from your experiences. Confidence comes from the time spent honing your craft and developing yourself professionally. It builds from those around us – our co-workers, supervisors and mentors. It also comes from within; our own belief in ourself and our ability to overcome obstacles because we have done it in the past.

Does this mean that coaches never lack self-confidence? Absolutely not. I guarantee that anyone who has ever coached has experienced many moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. The confidence you see from coaches doesn’t rule out doubt, it is a reflection of their ability to overcome the negativity and failure and believe in their ability to succeed above all else.

Struggling with confidence? Any good coach has been there. It’s not about never experiencing failure and doubt, it’s about your ability to overcome those thoughts and move ahead with a self-belief stronger than ever.

Confidence comes from having “been there and done that” and sometims you have to “fake it till you make it,” but as the leader of a program, the confidence you exude rubs off on all of the lives you touch on a regular basis. Coach with confidence, knowing you will make the best decision you can with the information you have, using your experience as a guide.

Learning and Development at Goalie Camp

I’m spending this week working at a great goalie camp on the beautiful campus of Merrimack College. There are 96 goaltenders of every age attending, as well as over 20 coaches. Goalies and coaches have come to North Andover from Sweden, Canada and almost every corner of the US.

On and off the ice, the exchange of ideas is tremendous. We trade ideas on everything from drills, to technique, to situational play. Coaches and players are spitting out ideas all the time. We are adapting, teaching and learning things both new and old. In our down time, we discuss situations, techniques and ideas. Concepts and teaching points are coming from plays are coaches alike.

Today, we saw a goaltender use a triangle push to go from post to post against a player moving along the (a new method we hadn’t thought about but loved). We taught a lean technique (popular in Sweden) for plays below the goal line. A challenging day of growth and development for everyone involved.

This camp pushes coaches and goaltenders beyond their comfort zones and forces everyone to try new things and learn new methods. We expose ourselves to new approaches and different styles and our own methods and styles evolve.

Growth and development occur when you are in an environment that encourages people to try new things and not fear failure. By surrounding ourselves with people different from ourselves who have different approaches to the game, we are growing as players and as coaches.

The Productivity Trap

Moment of Truth: I had one of these days today.

The to-do list is long. The tasks take some time and thought, but are relatively easy to complete. You mow through them one by one, and at the end of the day, feel like you had a productive day and are satisfied with the work that got done. You look forward to the next time you are so effective at finishing your to-do list.

But…did you really get anything accomplished or did you just cross off a list of mundane tasks that had to be completed? Did you do anything to really help yourself be better as a person or as a professional?

More often than not, the answer is no. We build to-do lists, cross the items off as we complete them, and feel satisfied with our effort and work for the day. I did this today. I had a list of tasks to complete and, even last night before leaving, made completing my list as a high priority item for today. When I got through the list, I felt like I had achieved my goal.

I went for a run and started to think about my day. While I got a lot of stuff done, I only did a few things that made me a better coach and better recruiter. There were only a few things that I did that advanced my hockey program down the line. In hindsight, I should not feel like I had a great day. I had a good day taking care of necessary business, but I did not have a great day like I had originally thought.

This is the “Productivity Trap” – feeling like we did more than was actually accomplished. How do we avoid it? Schedule and prioritize things that make us better people and professionals. Block off time to spend working at things that will advance our organizations, professions and careers. Do this every day. Tackle the to-do list every day, but don’t make completing it a high priority item. Cross off a few things and add a few things every day. Make the to-do list an ongoing action item that gets some care and attention on a daily basis, but doesn’t dominate your day and your thinking. Allow there to be work left un-done, because the work will always be there again tomorrow.