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October 26, 2015

Surprising Way to Improve Hockey Acceleration


If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

October 12, 2015

How to Instantly be a Hit Hockey Parent

If you’re a new hockey parent, let me just tell you, there’s a pattern you want to avoid. You know that feeling of seeing an email from someone, and you know it’s just gonna be bad news? Well, for a coach, we get a lot of parents who are just like that email. Like, I’m a pretty fast runner, so I’ve toyed with the idea of just sprinting the other way…or hiding behind a post when I see certain parents, but I’m too suave (and modest) to do that.
Now there are other parents who are simply a joy to see and be around. I’ve refrained from fist bumping them, but I certainly wanted to (read: suave)!
We’re at a point with our training company where we are selective about who we have as clients. So our client list is about 99.9% awesome parents. And I’d like to share what we look for when we consider which parents are awesome, and which are like a bad email.
Does being a hit parent, like our clients matter? I’d love to say it doesn’t, but as a coach, there is a definitive positive bias towards players and parents who treat us well and make us feel good. In turn, I often notice myself taking a little bit of extra time with that player, or being a bit more concerned about their development. This isn’t on purpose, but it just happens when I have a good relationship with the player and their parents.
So given the amount of power your coach has over your kid and their career, I highly suggest checking out some “hockey parent hygiene” tips I have to be an awesome hockey parent.
1. Awesome parents are respectful of the coaches time
In Yogic tradition, there was a guru, and a student. It was 1on1 training all the time. Nowadays, for whatever societal reason we tend to value the contribution of the coach or guru less…we want to go to Yoga classes that are 40 large so that we only have to pay the drop in fee of $20, rather than dedicating time, effort and energy to an integrative and holistic practice. But I digress, the coach nowadays has to address the needs and concerns of up to 20 players at a time. They also have lives. By talking their ear off about your kid, you’re likely boring them, even if they’re smiling, and they probably have other things to do. They do not have time for a 20 minute conversation with each parent. They might really like to do it, but it’s simply a math equation: 1 coach, multiple kids.
Of course, if you have an issue that needs to be addressed, some feedback for the coach, or some positive comments, go and talk to the coach. But know beforehand what you want to say to the coach, say it, and then give them an out to end the conversation. If they want to and can continue the conversation, they will. I know this sounds like simple social skills, and it is…but sometimes hockey parents forget when it comes to hockey topics.
2. Awesome parents don’t seek reassurance
Awesome parents don’t go looking for the coach to confirm or reassure what you think of your kid. You’re setting the coach to either lie to you or piss you off. Just ask for feedback, accept it and move on.
Your kid won’t get any better by you reassuring your idea of their playing abilities. Live in a world of “what is” and look for honest feedback rather than living in a world of “what should be”.
3. Awesome parents are informed
Some parents think they should not ask questions to the coach. No, you should still ask questions if you are unclear on anything. But you should do your research first and come prepared to ask good questions. Check your email, ask your kids, ask other parents if you’re chatting with them anyway. Come with good questions, and don’t waste the coaches time. They will appreciate it.
4. Awesome parents are involved
Be involved. Awesome parents ask good questions, ask for feedback, offer to help, and send thank yous. They do all this while being respectful of the coaches time. Parents who do this are not transactional, doing a favour and expecting something in return. Instead, they seem to do these things because they want to be helpful, friendly, or just good people.
Involved parents also screen coaches and opportunities. They value quality and actively seek out the best developmental opportunities.
Do your kid the favour of being an awesome parent with coaches. You’ll notice that coaches will be more at ease with you and may start to warm up to your kid. This can go a long way to helping their hockey career if they get a little bit of extra attention here and there. And if it appears like your “awesome hockey parent” tactics are not working right away, don’t hit the panic button and go bezerk! Give it time. Be patient. You might have to let your newfound reputation of being an awesome hockey parent slowly permeate the hockey zeitgeist.

P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.

October 2, 2015

How To Get More Ice Time This Season – Like a Navy SEAL

Many of my article ideas occur with me at a whiteboard in a dressing room somewhere, with classical music playing in the background, while wearing a tracksuit, pacing back and forth with a pen in my mouth.

Ok that was a joke. Mostly. One summer we experimented with having our athletes train while listening to classical music. I honestly don’t know if it worked or not. They certainly didn’t like it. So we’ll move on.

I actually usually get my article ideas from listening to podcasts. As any reader of Train 2.0 knows, I blab on and on about Tim Ferriss. And this is case is not exception. This time I was driving to my sister’s soccer game, and I was listening to ex-Navy SEAL “Jocko” Willink with Tim Ferriss.


“Jocko” (@240lbs of lean mass) and Tim (taken from www.fourhourworkweek.com)

They talked about his upcoming book: Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALS Lead and Win. And this is where I got my idea for this article. Jocko talked about how the central command would come around and ask all the SEAL team leaders what they needed for their operations. The leaders of the various units would go around the table and say things like,

  • “We need more staff for this”
  • “We need wi-fi at this outpost”
  • “We need this piece of equipment”

But every time it got to Jocko, he’d say, “we’re good, sir.”

Why? Because he owned his situation. If there was a problem with his unit, they fixed it. They didn’t complain, they didn’t ask for things they didn’t really need. They fixed their problems and owned their situation. But the result of this extreme ownership of their situation was that if they ever did need something, it happened RIGHT AWAY. Because central command knew that if Jocko was asking for something, their unit NEEDED it. It wasn’t a nice to have, it was a must have and he had already tried to solve the problem himself.

So enough preamble, let’s get a lay of the land from a hockey standpoint:

How many parents do you know who complain about ice time? Complain about the coach giving their kid unfair treatment?  Complain and blame. 

If you’re feeling uneasy right now, because you notice that it might even be you who complains and blames, that’s OKAY! I talk to many parents who feel the same way. Hell, I have felt the same way many times. Have I always dealt with it perfectly? Nope. I even know a ton of great people, and great parents who are highly effective people but get caught complaining when it comes to their kid’s sports.

But here’s the deal: there’s a way to take action, there’s a way to stop complaining and take (extreme) ownership of the situation. I present the 3 Step Guide to Getting More Ice Time like a Navy SEAL.

I sort of accidentally realized that I was giving this 3 Step Guide to a number of players based on how I, as a coach, liked to be treated by players. As soon as I figured out that I was giving it out to players quite a bit AND it was working, I realized I was on to something.

How will this guide get your kid more ice time?

First, it’s not about you, the parent. It’s about the player. It’s gotta come from them. Why? If the player addresses the problem, they’re setting themselves apart from 98% of the other players out there. Second, this blog is about educating parents to empower players. Not about micromanaging a career. If you’re into micromanaging young athletes, I’m sorry, this blog isn’t for you. But if you want to empower smart behaviours of your children, then keep on reading.

Second, when you the parent encourage  your kid to use the 3 Step Guide to Getting More Ice Time Like a Navy SEAL, you (the player) take action. Parents and players can stop wasting energy by placing blame and complaining and start spending it in a way to improve the future situation.

Third, the player invokes psychological triggers in a coach that will make them look out for the player. They’ll know that they will face “consequences” if they know the player is likely to follow up regarding their coaching decisions regarding ice time allocation.


Here it is: The 3 Step Guide to Getting More Ice Time Like a Navy SEAL

  1. Don’t Pout. Set it and Forget it.

You identify that your kid isn’t getting the ice time you think their play deserves. As soon as you observe yourself complaining or placing blame, don’t panic. Simply observe that you’re doing this. Next, encourage your kid to set a brief meeting with their coach before or after practice. Then keep on keeping on. Relax, let go. Set the meeting and forget about it. Worry about things you can take action on, not your unfair situation.

If you’re a parent, encourage your kids to read this next paragraph:

Coaches love players who take initiative and ask for meetings rather than players who pout and complain to their teammates. As a coach, I’m excited to have a player ask for feedback, even if the player is nervous and their questions are scripted. So long as they’re “present” and asking the right questions for the right reasons, I’m happy to help. I think most coaches would be the same boat as me. So, players, just ask your coach if he has 5 minutes for you to privately ask him some questions on your play before or after practice. I promise it will be worth the awkwardness you might feel!

2. At the Meeting, Ask These 4 Questions…

“Hey, I’m just looking for some feedback on my play. Could you tell me what you’d like me to do better?”

[Coach says something you can do better]

“Ok, I’ll work on that. What’s an area of my game that you think is contributing most to our team’s success right now? I’ll make sure to keep doing it!”

[Coach tells you a strength of your game]

“Ok, and one last thing… it’s my goal to [insert ice time goal here….play on the 1st power play, be on the first line, get more defensive minutes, etc..]. Can you tell me what I can do to achieve this goal?”

[Coach will tell you exactly what he or she wants to see….or they may say that they have guys for those roles. In which case, you’ll say “well just humour me a bit here, what would it take? I’m curious and I like to set challenging goals.”]

“Great! Thanks for your time and feedback. Is it okay if I follow up with you in [time…a couple weeks, a month] to review how well I’m progressing towards my goal?”

[Coach says sure]

3. Play

The follow up meeting is set. Now forget about the meeting. 

If you make some changes and the coach doesn’t immediately respond to your request, and you as a player start pouting, or if you as a parent start complaining again, that’s a great way to undermine all the good work you’ve done so far to impress the coach with your initiative. They’ll just think you’re a high maintenance player and parent and will try to avoid dealing with you at all costs from then on. But if you allow things to unfold during the time between your first meeting and next follow up, you will get the trust of your coach.

At this point, you’re actually going to have to act on the feedback your coach gave you. If coach said you need more poise with the puck, you will actually have to work on that. This strategy isn’t just a bunch of mind games, then BOOM extra ice. No, it’s a strategy for players and parents who WANT to take ownership over their situation just as a Navy SEAL would.

Now most coaches are good people and if they see you working to develop the area of the game they recommended, they’ll be impressed and likely start granting you the ice time you asked for. If they don’t…here’s where the magic starts….ask them at your follow up meeting how you’re progressing towards your goal. Ask them if they noticed your improvement or not. If they say no, ask them if they can help you a bit further. Again, so long as you take action and listen to the coach, you’ll invoke some psychological triggers that will make the coach WANT you to achieve your goal. This is because coaches love having players who will listen to their every word and TAKE ACTION on it. But again, if you jump the gun and start pouting before having a mature conversation with your coach at your next scheduled follow up meeting, then you’ll be sure to piss off the coach. Trust the process and keep working on things you can control.


That’s it. Now, a word on being able to deliver.

Don’t expect as a player or parent that simply because you go through this process that ice time will automatically happen. At the end of the day, the player needs to improve and make the adjustments necessary to play at the coach’s desired level. So look to find a better skill development coach or a better set of instructions.

So give this strategy a shot. Let me know how it goes and if you encounter any problems.

To “Duncan Keith-like” amounts of ice for you and yours,


P.S. If you liked this article because it was different than most Drone Coach advice, and you’d like to get to work on becoming a Hockey Wizard, then click here to check out the benefits of becoming a Train 2.0 Member.