Sunday, September 20, 2015

Teachable Moments

By Paul Lubanski

In my opinion--as a coach--it is incumbent upon you to manufacture and/or leverage as many "teach-able moments" as possible throughout a competitive campaign. This assertion holds and rings true regardless of age or ability level being directed.

Ok, so if you intend to consider embracing the premise/assertion I put forth above then it stands to reason that the following two questions require an answer: 1. How do we define "teach-able moment" and 2.--why is it critical that a coach/leader both identify and take advantage of as many as possible throughout the course of a playing season?

A "teach-able moment" is one where a poignant, profound occurrence fosters an opportunity for a coach/leader to make an indelible/lifelong positive impression on a youngster. For example: A coach is sitting amongst his/her 11 year-old players in the lobby of an arena awaiting clearance to enter a dressing room to prepare for an imminent contest. When, said coach and a myriad of his/her players witness their upcoming opponents haze/bully one of their teammates to the point-of-tears. Need I explain precisely "why" the scenario depicted could and should become a massively positive "teach-able moment?"

With all that said, today I offer-up a simple exercise for coaches (once again: at all skill and age-levels) to potentially employ that will create consistent "teach-able moments" throughout a playing season. And again, the more "teach-able moments" captured and taken full advantage of--THE MORE SUPERIOR COACH YOU BECOME! Wins and losses do NOT solely define your contribution to youth ice hockey--FAR from it.

Here is how it works...

Prior to each youngster departing your supervision post a game, practice or team activity--they are asked and are mandated to offer a brief answer to the following query: "Please give me one (regardless of how small) example of how you contributed to making our team a "better team" today?
You see, I challenge anyone in the coaching-universe to locate and put forth a more cogently applicable "teachable-moment" accented question as it relates to coaching-in-general?


The primary answer should be obvious...within the very-effort and exercise of posing the question and expecting an honest answer--you are forcing the young player to begin to understand that his/her responsibility to "THE TEAM" is paramount within youth team-sports. What a coaching/life lesson! Now that is big-time teaching/coaching/leading.!

By the way, the child's answer could be as elementary as " I focused on hitting-the-net with shots today because doing so helps my goaltender get better."

Wow--I'd love 10 of those answers. Wouldn't you?

Funny thing, on-the-surface, it may seem contradictory to a youngsters' personal improvement/career-climb to concentrate heavily on making his/her team a superior team. When, in reality--the opposite is true.

When a player labors diligently (with the TEAM front-and-center in his/her mind) to improve skills such as passing or a more accurate shooting technique --THOSE EFFORTS are unquestionably going to aid his/her career ascension in the long run!

What a concept.

In closing, securing your team's parents "buy-in" and literal participation is critical. In fact, requiring Mom/Dad/Grand-parent/Guardian to level the identical query immediately post each team function will serve to reinforce the concept. Then, coaches can discuss/compare child/player responses at each subsequent Coach/Parent-Guardian evaluation/goal meeting.


I propose that it should be easy to comprehend that the theme of today's column lierally transcends youth sports. In other words, individual "real-world" success typically hinges upon the ability to
be viewed as an asset to those around you--(family/business). Diligently employing the stategy I have outlined above lays that foundation for your children/young/adults. And, in doing as such my friends--well now--that is what I would deem inspirational, positive and just plain "good coaching!"

Best of luck.

Coach Lubanski

Paul T. Lubanski
Wilderness Xtreme Sports

248 762-6998

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