Becoming a “New” Minor Hockey Coach…

Congratulations, you’ve decided to Volunteer! Please fasten your seatbelt…

Please be sure to SHARE this link with your peers and Assistant Coaches!

Whether you volunteered, your obvious charm & hockey knowledge had other Parents on the team encouraging your decision OR you were “volun-told” by your spouse or child that you’re Coaching, you’re about to become a very important person to a group of young boys and/or girls.

This post is written for NEW COACHES, meaning that it will appeal more to those of you who’ve never coached minor hockey, more than it will a seasoned Coach with at least a few seasons under their belt.

Coach’s Start-up Requirements

In order to be prepared for the upcoming season you will have to ensure that you have the following items reviewed and checked off your list:

  1. Canada
    1. Vulnerable sector criminal record check (CAN) (this is a standard request by all sports organizations nowadays), in Canada the cost is usually around $20, can be obtained at your local police station with 2 pieces of ID and usually expires in 2 years.
    2. Respect In Sport program (CAN) – this excellent course is available online and requires payment. For more information about how to obtain your certification Contact your league, but in the meantime you can check out Hockey Canada here. Incidentally, many organizations will require at least one Parent per child to take the Respect In Sport-Parent edition too.
    3. Coaching Training courses as assigned by your league. For example, in Ontario the OHF requires all Head Coaches to take the Gender Identity and Expression program but this may differ depending on your Provincial/State requirements. If you’re interested in upping your game and taking additional courses, visit Hockey Canada for more information, here.
  2. USA
    1. Background screening (USA)– In the USA you are required to submit to a Background check through your affiliate, click here for more information.
    2. SafeSport Program (USA) – Registration usually takes place through your league’s website portal. To access SafeSport click here.
    3. Note: In the USA you must register as a member of USA Hockey in order to access the SafeSport Program. The cost is $46.00. You can do this right here.
    4. Coaching Training USA Hockey offers many additional coaching resources, they can be found here.

Planning the Season

In a later post on “Tools & Tips” [click on link here] I will be going into this in some more detail, but the basic steps you need to take for Planning the Season include:

  1. Select your Bench Staff, as required. This may include:
    1. Assistant Coach (you may select more than one)
    2. Trainer
    3. Manager
  2. Meet with your Bench Staff to plan the year, establish expectations and roles
  3. Meet with Parents and Players (some prefer to leave the Players out of this meeting, but it’s not a bad idea to let everyone hear the same message at older ages, say 10+).
  4. Go out there and have fun!

Communication is key!

Communication, communication, communication… this cannot be under-estimated. Whether this comes from the team’s Manager or Head Coach, it’s important to make sure that every Parent is aware of various changes to the schedule, team dinners, tournaments, events, how you want them to notify you of absences, sicknesses etc.

There’s nothing worse than expecting a full bench, only to have 7 players show-up and the Coach only learns about it 15 minutes before practice or game time. This is particularly true when the goalie doesn’t arrive!

Maintaining momentum…

Hockey seasons are long. If you’re coaching U8/Initiation/Novice players your back will need a little Rub-A5-35 after each practice from picking up the fallen (HINT: assign that to an Assistant Coach, haha!).

As a new Coach it’s important to focus on development and fun while preserving the good self-esteem of your players. Nobody’s going to be perfect but if you are clear in your expectations, communicate well with your Team and follow through on your plans you will have a better chance at a successful and rewarding season.

Remember, no matter what anybody might say, in these younger age groups it’s NOT about winning! I will say that again…

It’s NOT about winning!

It’s about making sure that 100% of the kids on your team have an aching desire to come back next year! Your role will play an important part in that decision, so thank you for volunteering and being a Coach, we hope you have fun with it!

Like we say at, It’s “For the GOOD of the game!”

Note: If there are any errors in the above information or broken links please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’re doing our best to help the Minor Hockey community through value-added and interesting content. Everyone can make a difference, we hope you will. Thank you.

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