(Please see an update at the bottom.)
Ya know, there are times when I get a little annoyed at someone telling me how to do hockey business. For the most part, I usually feel like they should have skated for something like 40-years in my boots before they come close to knowing why I do things one way rather than another. On the other hand, hmmmmmm…
My late dad, for example, was an unbelievable observer. I mean, he never said much about the way anyone went about their business, but when he did offer a thought — more often in the form of a question, he was usually dead-on.
Actually, dad didn’t know the intricacies of hockey — I had an uncle who was up to his eyeballs in that sport. Oh, he knew the game well enough as a fan, but more importantly he was a former baseball coach, and maybe even more importantly than that, he knew people.
Sooooooo… On the rare occasion when he’d make an observation about my high school or college team, you could bet money that he was right. Again, more often than not he phrased it in the form of a question, like, “Den, do you think your players are up-tight about making a mistake?” No doubt he was right — that time, and the few other times he’d gingerly offer his fatherly (or coaching) advice without hurting his oldest son’s feelings.
Of course, you have to figure that someone more recently tried to suggest I consider a twist in my hockey approach. Yup, you just have to figure. And it was none other than my best lady friend, Brenda V.
Oh, you’d also better know that she got her indoctrination to my way of thinking back when she was first able to visit me in sunny Florida. At the time I thought I’d be coaching a team in the ill fated Tropical Elite Hockey League, and at the time I thought she’d be watching a lot of my games. So — maybe with a touch of humor in my voice, I forewarned her, “Tell me just once my powerplay sucks while we’re on our way home from a game, and you’re on the next flight back to Montreal!” ;)
To be honest, there were a number of good reasons why she laughed whenever I’d say that. First, she doesn’t curse (I mean that — never). Secondly, I don’t think she’s the know-it-all type, and I don’t think she’d be comfortable coming off that way. Thirdly — and despite what everyone thinks about Canadians, she’s been little more than a fan of her beloved Habs, and never really into the intricacies of the game.
With that, Brenda and I were having coffee very early this morning out on the back patio — when Raggs would allow us some peace, and we were talking about our plans for the day. As is customary, she got me to salivating describing what we’d have for dinner later tonight, and I mentioned that I had some work to get done — readying for the launch of a new website, that I needed to contact a Junior coach about some players I might have for him, I had to promote my new coaching manual while it’s still on sale, and that I also had an idea for an article I wanted to work on for CoachChic.com.
Raggs finally settled down, she then hit me with a question that wasn’t unlike my dad might have sprung on me.
To be honest, I can’t remember exactly the way she phrased it, because from the outset I was a little energized, and we almost immediately began going back and forth on an idea. Oh, she’s come to know this sometimes grumpy old coach fairly well, and she’s been more than fair about getting too much into my work. This time, though, I had to tell her from the get-go that she was right.
What she reasoned with me is that I have a trained eye like few others (she’s seen it, just in our few visits to watch games or practices at local rinks). Actually, Brenda or I might say it’s a “trained” eye, but I sense it’s more a combination of 40-years worth of observing, quite a few years of both formal and informal training, mixed with a knack for spotting certain athletic movements much like my dad had.
Of course, knowing full-well that a trained eye won’t buy one a cup of coffee, Brenda proceeded to ask me how I used that special trait back home. (Speaking of coffee, I thought it a bit unfair that she was making me think that hard when I hadn’t even had the chance to get halfway into my first cup.)
Thinking for awhile, I knew that I’d adjust my team’s practices based on the needs of my kids. I mean, I’d make mental (or written) notes about the skill deficiencies some of my kids had, and I’d design drills to overcome those during our practices. In yet another venue, I designed clinic and hockey school lesson plans based on what I knew kids in a given age group absolutely had to be able to execute. Still, I don’t think that stuff was what Brenda was waiting to hear.
No, it wasn’t until I mentioned my frequent private lessons that I sensed a, “Bingo!” in her tone. Ya, private lessons, where a parent would call me about a problem they or a coach saw in their youngster’s game or skills, and I’d set about fixing it in pretty short order.
What Brenda was really getting at, I’m sure, is my frustration with not having any hockey problems to solve over about the past year. She’d actually dragged me to three or four local hockey events — again, I’m sure, just to get my creative hockey juices flowing again. And, God bless her, her efforts paid off.
She wasn’t hinting to me this time about private lessons, though — or at least not locally. No, she was reminding me of my own rather techie capabilities. Ya, true enough, that I’m a master at studying players, at zeroing in on their real problems — most likely the problems others missed completely, and then developing a plan to easily solve whatever ailed them. Of course, the techie capabilities I have beyond most others have to do with my video use for better than 25-years, and my unique capabilities on the Internet.
“So,” Brenda asked me in the end, “what about being a virtual hockey problem solver?”
What she was getting at was for me to take my trained eye and special techie capabilities to the World Wide Web. And yes, I thought it was easily do-able. Better yet, I wouldn’t be trapped to just helping players within commuting distance, but I could solve problems for a Mite in Milwaukee, a Pee Wee in Palm Springs, a Midget in Manhattan, and an adult player in Atlanta. Come to think of it, only a language barrier might prevent me from helping an Atom in Austria and a Bantam in Belgium. Hmmmmmmm…
Is was about that time, though, that Brenda and I sorta hit a wall. As I’d explained to her, this idea wasn’t exactly new. In fact, I’d thought about it off and on starting back about a decade ago when the first CoachChic.com website went on-line. What always got in the way were the logistics. Oh, not the logistics having anything to do with the technical side — I do more things via the Internet than you can imagine, including being able to watch a video on my Kissimmee laptop along with a parent, coach or older player out in Seattle.
No, the kind of logistics I’m talking about has to do with how I should offer — or package — such a service. Going back a step further, I have to wonder if anyone will even buy it.
For example, how should I sell such a service? In other words, should I charge a considerable amount for a one-time service — like solving a player’s skating mechanics? Or, would it be better for someone to keep me on a year-long retainer, making it possible for me to gradually affect even more positive changes over the long haul?
Just so you know, I’ve cured a million hockey ills in private lessons. I’m a master at analyzing the skating stride, and I’ve even produced a scientifically based video on that. I’ve also developed drill progressions over the years that can help players develop “hands”, become highly skilled passers and receivers, and ultimately send rockets off their sticks. So, however, have I been called upon to help skaters hone specific positional skills, be it as a forward or a defenseman (I leave the goaltenders to others).
That’s where Brenda and I looked at each other and agreed, “We need help on this kind of stuff.” As I told her, “I have a ton of great friends on-line, from adult players to parents of developing players to coaches who might need help with their teams.”
This isn’t to say that everyone needs my help (although they probably do, in one way or another). But whether they do or don’t need such a service right now, they’re going to see things in ways that I probably can’t.
And, of course, the “they” I’m really talking about here is YOU. I know certain things, and so does Brenda. What we don’t necessarily know how to do is look at these things through your eyes. (I might have been a hockey dad, but I was able to teach my own son well enough for him to have what were described as world class skills, and those ultimately got him into pro hockey. Nor did I need to call on anyone else when it came to helping my son’s son break college scoring records and look forward to a likely dabble with pro hockey. You, on the other hand, might not be able to help your own quite as well.)
So, as the title suggests, Brenda and I are asking for your input or your ideas on such an offering. If you have some, I can appreciate that you might not want to put them in the comments here. Actually, I’d much prefer that you Email Me, so that you might feel a little more comfortable telling us what you really think.
Thanks for any consideration in this matter. I look forward to hearing from my friends, and I promise to let everyone know a little later exactly what I’ll do about this most interesting idea. My hope — and probably also Brenda’s — is that I’m able to get back to solving hockey problems again, and thus get those old creative juices flowing like they used to.
Up front, not a lot of people responded to the above plea for help or advice. However, the few who did email me were really positive.
No surprise to Brenda and me, most of the respondents were from back in my home area, between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with a pair from across the pond (in the UK and in Sweden).
Of course, I always get juiced at the slightest encouragement (thank you, folks), and I usually get right to work once the creative juices start to flow.
The culmination of those efforts is a program outlined on a new website entitled YOUR Virtual Hockey Coach.
Do I believe it will work? You betcha! And, as I say in the directions on how a hockey customer and I will pull it off, I think it’s going to be “easy-peasy”… We have a quick communication at the start, I suggest how a brief video ought to be shot, the customer sends me the video, and I perform my magic from there.
Anyway, this was just a quick update, and a chance to thank those who provided some great feedback. (It’s nice to have friends like you.) If you’re into hockey — or if you know a player who could use some help with his or her game, please at least take a look at my new site.