The Low Down on Coaching

Coaching. You have your NHL standard coaches that can give a look and the players know exactly what they’re thinking. And then you have coaches like me. Level one coaches. I got my level one when I turned 16 (2015) with a different club to where I am now. I owe everything that I have now to that person. I had only started skating in 2013/14 due to my Duke of Edinburgh needing a sport, and me being lazy, it seemed like the easiest. But, about three years later, I am now coaching within the Coventry Blaze Academy.

If anybody ever tried to say coaching was easy, I would probably have to ask what they’re doing wrong. Coaching is a pain in the ass, but you love it beyond belief. The kids, in my case, are amazing. As a teenager (I am currently 17), I would think that the kids grow to think of you a brother/sister figure. You’re an achievable goal for them, and in my case, I take a particular interest in the young girls within the club. Currently with two girls within our under 9s, I spend a lot of time helping them get to a standard that I hope that they could achieve everything the could hope for within the sport. There are not enough female players, I am lucky enough to be friends with a female GB player, but know very few beyond her. So I hope, that through their role models and my help, these two girls will continue and may even become coaches themselves.The coaches, in my case, are also amazing. You’re never left in the dark, and you are always listened to. The parents, at my current club, are beyond amazing. They’re always happy to help with anything, including lifts which I regularly need.

Coaching is time consuming. I currently coach two junior teams (U9s & U11s) and am at the rink one or two times a week for training and, some weekends, both saturday and sunday for games, as well as an off ice session. But this is never a rant from me. You get the chance to see these kids go from a ‘Learn To Play’ (Beginners) standard to being chosen to play their division. In my coaching course, we had to understand the most influential people within the life of a child. Obviously, first is their parents. But second is the teachers. Coaches are teachers. Every coach has to understand that they are a source of aspiration for a child, and they will always be looking at you as a role model. It is important for that role model to be positive. I am usually among four to seven other coaches on a junior session, ranging from level two to level one. One of those being a GB Womens player, while two of them playing with our local NIHL. The kids are presented with endless options of role models. I see myself as an achievable goal, considering I am still fairly new to the sport compared to some of my friends.  

The coaching course is a two day course. Much to my annoyance, I was suffering from a chest infection at the time of mine which ruined my on-ice segment. You sit in a room for about sixteen hours experiencing ‘Death from powerpoint’, which really was death through powerpoint. You have work in groups of people who you wouldn’t know, luckily I knew everybody within my group due to the course being next to my club’s rink. But you have to be able to work with everybody. Then you have to do an on-ice session, which is just to test that you’re not going to kill somebody because you can’t skate. A horrible experience when you can hardly breathe, but I got through it with the use of a few ‘man-up’ pills. After the course, you are given a disc with the powerpoints on and a exam paper. For anybody doing this course, PHOTOCOPY THE EXAM PAPER. You will make mistakes. You will mess things up. But if you have photocopied the original (keep the original for the one that you send), you have plenty of chances to mess up. I think it took me about three or four attempts (that my coach at the time looked through) before I reached a high standard. You have to achieve over 85% (I THINK) to call yourself a coach, I got around 94%. But the wait is horrible. You have six weeks to complete the paper and deliver it to the examiner, and then you could be waiting for another six weeks before you hear anything. It’s nerve racking. But once it’s over, you get a cute little card with a horrific mugshot. The most important thing you have to consider before doing it, is your reason. Some parents will do the coaching course, and once on the ice will only focus on their own child. These are the worst kind of coaches in my opinion. At the time, I only wanted to coach because It meant that I got extra ice time and I got to put it on my CV. But after a few weeks of doing it, I grew to love it. I loved the effect it had on me and on the kids. I was proud of them, and of myself knowing that I was teaching them while learning myself. It is definitely a learning curve that is a joy to experience.



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