Tools & Tips for “New” Minor Hockey Coaches

Who couldn’t use a bit of guidance? For the NEW coaches here’s a bit of help…

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

While this is NOT a totally exhaustive list, at we do try to arm you with valuable information that will help you on your journey.

Here are a few Tools & Tips to help you get started:

Typical Coach’s Kit

  1. Personal equipment:
    1. Skates,
    2. Helmet,
    3. gloves,
    4. hockey stick and
    5. Really cool track suit (although jeans and a lumber-jacket work just fine!)
  2. Practice gear:
    1. Coach’s whiteboard with hockey rink drawn on it (you know the type, get the kind that hangs on the glass, suction cups don’t work long-term),
    2. minimum of 3 dry erase markers (you’ll see why…),
    3. clipboard with prepared Practice Plan (or folded into your pockets)
    4. whistle,
    5. pucks,
    6. pylons and
    7. water bottle for yourself (or use your child’s).

Tips For Planning Your Season

The more information you provide to your Bench Staff and Parents UP-FRONT, the easier it will be to start-ff on the right footings. These details provide some recommended TIPS for getting off to a great start:

  1. Select your Bench Staff
    1. Assistant Coaches, Manager, Trainer (if required)
    2. Selection criteria to consider:
      1. You may have no choice! Some leagues assign Bench Staff.
      2. You may get too many over-zealous applicants and need to say “No” a few times, but that’s where these Tips are useful:
        1. Choose somebody that complements your background, skill wise
        2. Choose a person with previous good Bench Staff reputation
        3. Choose a person you know has shared values, as best as you can determine
        4. TIP: Pick Assistant Coaches based on splitting the ‘gate’ duties – this is worth expanding on. I have found that some Parents will adjust shift lengths to give their own child more ice time… “No, really?” You say. To avoid this I tended to put Forward Parents on the D-gate and Defence Parents on the F-gate. Never had a problem afterwards.
        5. There’s no perfect answer, these are recommendations but ultimately it’s your responsibility to make sure you lead and manage your Bench Staff.
  2. Meet with your Bench Staff: Once you’ve got commitments for your Bench Staff it’s always a great idea to have a few refreshments and get to know each other. A few key elements for your meeting:
    1. During this meet-n-greet you can discuss your background and expectations for the year, then give the floor to everyone else to share their experiences and expectations.
    2. Assign roles – how will each person be expected to assist you in your role:
      1. Manager role – Parent liaison, fundraising, tournaments, league liaison etc.
      2. Trainer role – pre-game warm-up, dealing with injuries, equipment etc.
      3. Assistant Coach roles – at practices, pre-game, on the bench etc.
    3. Solicit their help with planning the Parent Meeting
  3. Meet the Parents
    1. Meet in a comfortable area
      1. Maybe a private room at the rink or somewhere off-site, but as a minimum try to grab a quiet area in the rink where you can chat and field questions
    2. Include a hand-out and address the following topics in your meeting:
      1. Welcome message – may a good chance to let all of the Parents introduce themselves too and indicate who their Child is on the team
      2. Introduce the Bench Staff – Start with yourself – offer a bit of background and “why” you decided to Coach; Introduce each of your Bench Staff and their roles.
      3. Your Goals – what you hope to accomplish and what you will be focusing on
      4. Rules for the team – this could include conduct, how early to be at rink for games/practices, water bottle responsibility, jersey care etc.
      5. Communications – Let Parents know how they can address issues that come up during the season- who to call, 24 hour rule, etc. This will also be covered in a separate blog post in the future.
      6. Present medical condition and contact forms, if required
      7. Discuss any known tournament plans
      8. Budget information, depending on the type of team
    3. Solicit open discussion and address any questions or concerns
    4. Close with a positive message

TIP: You don’t have to do it all yourself, you might want to delegate most of the agenda to your Manager who will be handling most of the details throughout the season anyway

Valuable Links to Get You Started…

Below you will find just a few links that will make your life a lot easier… We’re happy to admit we’re NOT the experts at, but we feel like we’re well aware of those who are, so please feel free to share our links and give us some great Social Media reviews if you agree:

  1. Hockey Canada Skills Development Program overview:
  2. USA Hockey American Development Model

For a more comprehensive list visit our post on “Coaching Sites“.

For NEW Coaches we also have some tips on Planning Practices.

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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3 Tips for dealing with Young Players who are having a hard time…

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