Mike Mondin, ChPC - Sledge Hockey
Mike Mondin, ChPC, head coach of the bronze medal winning Paralympic Sledge Hockey team in 2014 and an NCCP Level 3 certified hockey coach, took some time away from the Canada-U.S.A. 2015 World Junior Championship game on New Year’s Eve to share some of his words of wisdom for Canadian coaches.
Skills need to remain the number one focus. “I would like to see skill remain the emphasis as the athletes grow and progress through the different levels of the system,” says Mondin, a teacher by trade. “The skills and the fundamentals required to play the sport are the most important. Even at the national level, where the athletes are very skilled and talented, it’s still paramount that they work on that base of skill.” He proposes holding off on team strategy and tactical preparation in favour of technical skill development, particularly for young athletes.
Mondin likes to reflect on the skills that are involved in the game through his practice planning process. He also suggests that: “As a coach, when you collaborate with other coaches and those on your staff, and speak with the players and get their feedback, that’s when you come up with ideas for practice.”
The athlete needs to know that the coach cares. Mondin believes that how much a coach knows isn’t as important as establishing a positive relationship with the athlete. He says: “It doesn’t matter if you’re coaching six-year-olds in novice or adults in sledge hockey, the athlete has to know that the coach really cares about them. That’s the first step in establishing a positive coach-athlete relationship.”
As we dive into 2015, there’s no better time to take a look at your own coaching philosophy and to make sure that it’s geared towards the goals of your program. Likewise, make sure your practices focus on technical skill development and don’t forget to tap into your peers to come up with the best drills. Lastly, make a point of ensuring a positive athlete-coach relationship, it’ll make all the difference.