Making everyone feel like they belong

Scott Murray is the player-coach-GM of Thailand's fabled expat hockey squad, the Flying Farangs. He is also the Vice President of the Siam Hockey League and a lifelong hockey fan and aficionado, remembering attending original six games at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The best coaches are the ones who make everyone on their team feel like they belong and are contributing to the team’s success.

Let some of your lesser-skilled players lead your team out of the dressing; let them lead the cheer in the huddle before the game and even let them announce the starting line-up inserting them in every once in awhile. 

Reward defensive prowess – blocking shots, winning face-offs, backchecking, plus-minus and shutting down the other team’s best shooters. 

Give your back-up goalie an important start every once in a while. It will keep him or her sharp and help their confidence. 

Some of your players may be doing important volunteer work – make sure you left them know how important that is.      

You really don’t need to coddle your stars; they will get enough attention. But it is important to notice all your players and not let any slip through the cracks. 

So many championships have been won not just because of the star players’ contributions, but contributions from the whole team.

The third line of the 2007 Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks (Sami Pahlsson, Travis Moen & Rob Niedermayer) played a pivotal role in shutting down the Ottawa Senators big guns.

Even last year, Tampa Bay’s third line of Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow played a huge role in clinching Tampa’s second- straight Cup.

The fabric or character of a team so often determines its destiny. And if players have a strong sense of fellowship and camaraderie they will go to bat for each other when it matters most. Mutual respect goes a long way in helping to build team and personal character. 

Don’t tolerate any bullying and be sensitive that what some players may consider funny may be hurtful to others.

It’s nice to win, but be careful about running up the score and humiliating your opponent. No one likes to lose 14-2.  

Also, be careful that a young player may be placing too much blame or guilt on themselves for a mistake on the ice. This can sour their experience and hurt their confidence. 

Losing isn’t fun, but it’s a reflection of life. You can’t always win, but it is important to try your best. Make sure players don’t dwell on a loss – there’s always the next game.

Outside of their parents and teachers, coaches may be the most important group of people a young athlete deals with growing up – take that responsibility seriously.    

Coaches help mold young players lives, so teach them not just how to be a good hockey player, but how to be a good human being as well.