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View Full Version : So what are the secrets to coaching women's college hockey players?



shelfit
04-21-2015, 10:50 PM
There have been a lot of posts lately about what not to do as a college coach and unfortunately enough living examples in recent years including this year of what not to do as a college coach, but let's make a positive contribution to the game and post what we the so-called experts thinks it takes to coach young women in today's college hockey setting at both the D1 and D3 levels. Let's seriously keep this positive people.

pokechecker
04-22-2015, 09:23 AM
There have been a lot of posts lately about what not to do as a college coach and unfortunately enough living examples in recent years including this year of what not to do as a college coach, but let's make a positive contribution to the game and post what we the so-called experts thinks it takes to coach young women in today's college hockey setting at both the D1 and D3 levels. Let's seriously keep this positive people.

you just limited the pool of responders to less than a dozen in the entire world, and will be lucky to get any of them to respond since they would be "aiding the enemy"

Iíve never coached college, and donít consider myself an expert but after coaching boys teams for 9 years, and girls teams for 5 years I had a unique opportunity, coaching a mixed boys and girls volleyball team of 7th & 8th graders for 2 years. It was a city rec league, but donít let that fool you, both years there were 2 girls on my team who were also on the travelling team, and some teams had more. This was in a school district where all 4 of the HS teams had appeared in the state HS tournament at least once and 2 of the teams were perennial powers and had won the state HS tourney more than once. There were at least a dozen teams and it was very competitive.

So, did I coach them as boys or girls? Neither, at work you wouldnít manage males any different than females would you? Every player is unique, so is every team, a coach has to be flexible in how they coach individual players and from one team to another. Thatís the first thing I would say, an inflexible coach is going to have problems and less likely to be successful. The second is that there really isnít a different way to coach males and females, itís just that you can get away with more ďmistakesĒ with males than females. For that Iím glad, since by the time I started coaching girls, most of my mistakes were behind me.

You can usually tell which team is losing without looking at the scoreboard. Just look at which coaches are yelling. It is one thing to yell to your team so they can hear you, it is another to yell at them. There is a difference and if you do the latter, neither males nor females will appreciate it. Males are generally more willing to tolerate it, but donít get the idea it is an effective way to coach them. For the short term it may work, but for long term all yelling at them really does is demonstrate that you did not do a good job of preparing your team. And thatís why losing coaches are the ones typically doing the yelling, their team is ill prepared. It only proves you are an ineffective coach.

OnMAA
04-22-2015, 09:52 AM
I'll bite......

A good coach has to be able to:
- Listen
- Communicate Well
- Be Flexible (good point by pokechecker)
- Know the finer points of the game
- Be a good teacher of concepts

This applies equally to Men vs Women. It has often been stated that Female players listen much better than Male players. Not sure if there is any science behind that, but that would suggest that coaches should also be able to listen to the needs of a female player. To me that is the key...to be able to communicate well which each player on the team as an individual.

joecct
04-22-2015, 10:15 AM
First and foremost a teacher. Yelling is not teaching. A good coach needs to explain the error and encourage more risk taking within the context of the team and game structure.

I think many coaches are afraid of mistakes and, as a consequence, rely on "systems" that reduce their skilled players to automatons.

pokechecker
04-22-2015, 10:25 AM
It has often been stated that Female players listen much better than Male players.

that was my observation, when addressing the team all the girls listened, it was rare to have somebody not, and not only that usually tried to apply/follow what I said, at any given time only 80% of the boys were listening and only half of them followed what I said.

Leather helmet
04-22-2015, 10:55 AM
A few years ago, I read an article by Anson Dorrance, the current (and highly successful) women's soccer coach at UNC, who was also formerly the men's soccer coach at the same university. He had a great deal of insight into the differences between coaching women and men. The part that stuck with me was with regard to reviewing game film: with men you must show them film or they won't believe that they made a mistake; with women, film review is counterproductive because they already feel bad enough about their mistakes and pointing them out makes it worse.

This suggests to me that the successful women's coaches are those coaches who realize that women are not just men with ponytails.

OnMAA
04-22-2015, 03:19 PM
This suggests to me that the successful women's coaches are those coaches who realize that women are not just men with ponytails.

Great quote. Made my smile of the day. !!!

OnMAA
04-22-2015, 03:21 PM
and only half of them followed what I said.

Many on here do not follow what you say either. :D (JK - Just poking some fun...No pun intended :D )

OnMAA
04-22-2015, 03:24 PM
I think many coaches are afraid of mistakes and, as a consequence, rely on "systems" that reduce their skilled players to automatons.

Right on. Love that take. Having said that, there has to be the right mix of systems AND allowing your players to be creative. To win games, you do have to teach all players to be able to always be at the right side of the puck, but you also have to give them the freedom to be creative, as long as you teach your players to use/choose the right moments.

For example, your strategy and freedom changes in the last 5 minutes of the game if you have a one goal lead.

pokechecker
04-22-2015, 04:16 PM
Many on here do not follow what you say either.

rest assured I did not urinate in my pants because of your comment




This suggests to me that the successful women's coaches are those coaches who realize that women are not just men with ponytails.

If I were to differentiate male and female athletes from their physical differences, ponytails or even hair wouldn’t be it. Although I do like the comment.

When you are talking about female athletes at any level, the more successful females will be very similar to males in their behavior, the rules of the game demand it. After all, the games were invented by and for men. Hockey rewards behavior typically associated with males. If anything, other than team work, it penalizes behavior associated with females.

This “secret” I accidently discovered concerning my own daughter. She had first played hockey in the neighborhood with boys and you’d never have never known she was a girl from the way she played. But when she joined organized hockey for girls she was a totally different player her first game. Then back home playing with neighborhood kids she was back to her old self. This happened again the second game and even she realized she was in trouble of becoming a bench warmer if things continued as they were.
It finally hit me, when playing hockey with girls she was behaving as was the norm in other social situations with girls, girl scouts for example. I told her to imagine she was playing with the neighborhood kids when she played hockey with the girls, it was not only OK, it was what was expected (and pointed out her best team mates acted kind of boyish).

If only every other problem was so simple. Her coach commented to me a few games later that she was easily the most improved player from the beginning of the season and she ended up tied for second on the team in goals scored. So it seems that coaches aren’t the only ones that need to be flexible. In fact that is a general rule for success, the ability to adapt to the environment.

ne7minder
04-22-2015, 04:39 PM
This ďsecretĒ I accidently discovered concerning my own daughter. She had first played hockey in the neighborhood with boys and youíd never have never known she was a girl from the way she played. But when she joined organized hockey for girls she was a totally different player her first game. Then back home playing with neighborhood kids she was back to her old self. This happened again the second game and even she realized she was in trouble of becoming a bench warmer if things continued as they were.

I really don't understand your comment about the game being designed for men so women have a problem playing it like men. Having watched men's hockey fo 55+ years & womens for 20+ I don't know what you are suggesting. OTOH I know from our daughters experience that she just wanted to be a hockey player & wanted to be treated like a hockey player. Beyond that I can't tell you if the differences I saw between my youth & hers had to do with gender or era. Everything was much more touchy-feely now than then. He HS coach, who had a couple very recent state championships & would get a couple more shortly gave parents his cell phone number in case we had questions or concerns. Had a parent called my HS coach the kid would have been lucky to only be sent to JV. I know that the girls seemed to have more cliques off the ice but not on it. From a practical standpoint I don't think you can motivate girls and women the way many men's coaches do (YER PLAYIN LIKE A BUNCH A DANG GIRLS!!) and I know there was some crying or decisions & rants that would not have happened on a boys team (at least not in a group setting). I assume that feelings etc are more critical but that may be my patriarchal upbringing. We'd need to find someone with successful experience on both sides to give an informed opinion.

ne7minder
04-22-2015, 04:42 PM
A few years ago, I read an article by Anson Dorrance, the current (and highly successful) women's soccer coach at UNC, who was also formerly the men's soccer coach at the same university. He had a great deal of insight into the differences between coaching women and men. The part that stuck with me was with regard to reviewing game film: with men you must show them film or they won't believe that they made a mistake; with women, film review is counterproductive because they already feel bad enough about their mistakes and pointing them out makes it worse.

This suggests to me that the successful women's coaches are those coaches who realize that women are not just men with ponytails.

I know the most successfully D-1 women's team gets regular video replays & that both mistakes & correct play is highlighted. I got the impression from a couple of the coaches sessions that particularly ugly bits of film were rerun multiple times to reinforce the lesson. So maybe thats not it either.

ARM
04-22-2015, 06:28 PM
In general, coaching combines the skills needed to be a good teacher with those required of an effective boss. The coach needs to impart wisdom about a subject area, but also needs to manage a group such that it can achieve results through means that aren't always in the best interest of the individual. There may be some differences, at least stereotypically, based on gender. Overall, most people desire the same things. They want to be valued, respected, and considered. To have success, they must also be motivated. If a coach hollers at players, how that hollering is perceived is important. If the team believes that the coach is passionate about the game, the team, and the players, they will likely tolerate more volume and emphasis than if they think the coach is just an abusive jerk. I think most parents love their children and truly want the best for them, but that message often gets lost when the parent criticizes and berates such that the child feels like a failure. In my experience, women are very willing to work hard, particularly if they are encouraged rather than threatened.

OnMAA
04-22-2015, 10:45 PM
In my experience, women are very willing to work hard, particularly if they are encouraged rather than threatened.

100% agree with that. Great closing sentence to put an exclamation point on a great post. You can not underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.

pokechecker
04-23-2015, 07:47 AM
I really don't understand your comment about the game being designed for men so women have a problem playing it like men.

I'm not sure how you got that from reading my post

the game was designed by men for men, IOW, it follows that behaviors to be successful at it would likely be those typically associated with men, females will only have a problem if they are incapable of those behaviors

look at ice dancing, the opposite example
if you are male you'd better have some grace if you hope to be succesful

good gawd, if we cannot understand one another on such simple topics, is is no wonder that wars exist between nations on much more complex problems


In general, coaching combines the skills needed to be a good teacher with those required of an effective boss. The coach needs to impart wisdom about a subject area, but also needs to manage a group such that it can achieve results through means that aren't always in the best interest of the individual. There may be some differences, at least stereotypically, based on gender. Overall, most people desire the same things. They want to be valued, respected, and considered. To have success, they must also be motivated. If a coach hollers at players, how that hollering is perceived is important. If the team believes that the coach is passionate about the game, the team, and the players, they will likely tolerate more volume and emphasis than if they think the coach is just an abusive jerk. I think most parents love their children and truly want the best for them, but that message often gets lost when the parent criticizes and berates such that the child feels like a failure. In my experience, women are very willing to work hard, particularly if they are encouraged rather than threatened.

nice post, but I would say that last sentence applies to both men and women, it's just that males will tolerate more crap being thrown at them, often throwing crap back, and come to think of it successful women also do too :)

Blackbeard
04-23-2015, 09:37 AM
males will tolerate more crap being thrown at them, often throwing crap back, and come to think of it successful women also do too :)

Just a thought, meaning this is not intended to start a flame war, but isn't this what Miller has been doing and getting flack from her detractors for doing so?

giwan
04-23-2015, 10:12 AM
100% agree with that. Great closing sentence to put an exclamation point on a great post. You can not underestimate the power of positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement 4:1 ratio it works for everyone. Follow the science

pokechecker
04-23-2015, 01:01 PM
Just a thought, meaning this is not intended to start a flame war, but isn't this what Miller has been doing and getting flack from her detractors for doing so?

OK, I did not take the time to write what I meant to say properly
successful women are also able to deal with the crap thrown their way

the fact that men often throw crap back is just their way of dealing with it, not that it makes them any more successful

hope that meets everyone's approval (and apologies for not using capitalization at the beginning and a period at the end)

Trinity11
04-24-2015, 04:51 PM
OK, I did not take the time to write what I meant to say properly
successful women are also able to deal with the crap thrown their way

the fact that men often throw crap back is just their way of dealing with it, not that it makes them any more successful

hope that meets everyone's approval (and apologies for not using capitalization at the beginning and a period at the end)


Make them watch hockey. Start by watching good NHL teams play. Compare and contrast the pros with game tapes. Reinforce at practice...repeat