I guess my cyber friends should first understand the way my life changes with the seasons. Or, should I say, my life changes as hockey changes over the course of a year…
For example, I’m betting a lot of my social media friends sensed that I was stressing a bit over the past two weeks (I’d noted at one point that I was functioning on something close to zero sleep). That craziness was attributed to my young team’s season-ending playoffs followed by a week devoted to the tryouts for my two next year’s teams.
Now, I’m sure that plenty of folks read that last paragraph and wondered how an hour or so at a rink each night could be such a big deal. Ah, that might be so. However, while players and parents might just go to the rink, do what they do and then go home, an hour of ice at a distant rink is more like 4-hours out of a coach’s day or night. I mean, there’s usually a good hour of planning to do, I have to shave and shower and dress like anyone else going to work, and I’ve always been the first to the rink and the last to leave. And, let me tell you… It usually takes me a good couple of hours to wind down after. Oh, I’m not saying every coach is like I’ve described it, but that’s the way I’m built.
Okay, so why am I so psyched? Well, it isn’t because hockey is over for the time being. Naw, I love every minute of what I described above; that’s kinda my calling. That established, let me explain the many things I am grateful for right now…
My youngest team actually went through their very short season without a win. (Not to worry ’bout that, folks.) You see, those near-babies come from my Learn-to-play clinic, and they’re almost all first or second year skaters. What has me so psyched about them is that they came so far over just a few months in league play. What also had me so hepped-up is that few kids returned from last year’s team to help us a bit. No, three kids off that team stepped in to play unbelievably for my Mite AAA’s this year, two boys are arguably the best players in their age division this year, and the rest from last season starred on teams in the local town program. And, my little babies from this year — the ones who struggled on the scoreboard? I am betting they are going to be the best in their respective levels come next winter.
My AAA Mites won their early-season 3-on-3 league, and finished third overall in the full-ice league. They also ended the year with the fewest goals-allowed over the long season, which would suggest to most knowledgeable folks that they learned how to really play the game. We lost in the league semi-finals by a goal, and the team that beat us won the whole thing by a goal. So, we’re talking three teams being within a goal of each other, and I’m thinking anyone could have won all the marbles if the wind just blew a hair differently.
For sure, tryouts can be a gut-wrenching time for a coach…
Still, I was able to ultimately get a number of my previously noted “babies” onto my young Mite team for next year (phew), and I also got a couple of other nice little players. Kids in those ages (like 6-years old) are really moldable, so I know I can raise the level of their game hugely in a short time. The parents should also be a dream, since it usually takes them at least a couple of years to decide they know more than me. 😉
As for my older Bantam team, there was plenty of reason not to feel psyched in the start. That group evidently experienced a pretty rough season this past winter, so I proceeded to pretty much gut the roster. That’s never a fun thing to do — telling some kids they’re welcomed and others they’re not. But, it did have to be done. And, little by little, as we went through the week-long tryouts, I could see I had grabbed some of the right kids. Actually, although we ended still needing a few good players, I knew that many pieces of the new puzzle had fallen into place. And, just to further pick-up my spirits, it appears we have a good chance of now landing the remaining few pieces.
Of course, there’s more to this story. For, in a way, it has been helpful that I’ve been able to put the skates away for a week…
Getting back to how time-consuming even an hour of ice-time can be for me, understand that I still always have the paperwork or administrative side of my New England Hockey Institute work to do. Add to that my want to keep pouring articles and videos into the CoachChic.com site, my need to add new products to the Tips and Tricks Store, and also my obligation to keep on blogging right here. So, just envision how it might be most days — as I try to get myself into an article, a video production, or some important paperwork, but I’m constantly having to keep one eye on a clock with the knowledge that I ultimately need to be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and at a rink pretty soon. Again — except for the dawgoned administrative stuff, I’m doing everything I love to do.
Okay, so — although you wouldn’t know it by the temperature outside right now (like 20-degrees), it is finally spring. And with that comes a solid week off followed by a slightly eased outside workload. And, I’ve already gotten more stuff done in the first two days of my break than I’ve managed in the last month. I mean, I’ve gotten all of my paperwork up to snuff (finally), I’ve released a new coaching manual, I’ve finalized two new hockey training programs (a Hockey BootCamp for older kids and adults, plus my little ones’ Mite & Squirt Summer School), and I’ve undertaken some business marketing projects I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into for ages.
I think I’ve made it known that I study business and marketing — a lot. Maybe “study” is the wrong choice of words, however.
I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters, all of them having to do with on-line marketing. I also take advantage of all the free ebooks out there, videos on the subject, and podcasts (mp3 audio programs). I’ll usually save all the ebooks in similar file folders, just so I can scan the ones I need when the time is right. I ultimately sort through the videos to see which ones really need to be watched, and which ones can be listened to without the need for visuals. Why do I do that? Well, I want to save those I’ll want to re-watch in their appropriate folders, and I’ll capture the audio from the others — as mp3 files, and I’ll add those to my podcast collection. Then, when I’ve gathered enough audio files, I’ll burn them to a CD for playing later in my car.
Now, the reason I questioned whether I really “study” or not is because I attempt to make learning pleasurable. I mean, I’ll slap a CD in the car’s deck, and just listen to a lecture (or whatever) as I’m motoring to a rink. I don’t mind that my mind wanders on occasion — that can be good. I’ll even often take the time to visualize some of the drills I’m going use in awhile, or how I might transition from one drill to the next. And, if a particular audio program doesn’t interest me at the time, I’ll fast-forward to something that does. More often, actually, I’ll look for something appropriate to my latest business project.
To make my point further… I once created a program called “A Total Mastery System”. It was REALLY elaborate, offering help to other hockey coaches by way of an ebook, a drill database, and a long audio program centered around my philosophies in coaching. And, within the latter program, I suggested to listeners that they would hear different things during subsequent replays. I think some of this has to do with our focus at different times. But, I think the following is more likely to be going on…
Among the hundreds of hockey lectures I have (on old cassette tapes), there’s one I’ve always pulled from the shelf as I readied to build a new team. The interesting part is that I recorded that one when I was still a youth coach, I heard different things when I later listened as a high school coach, and the same thing happened the several times I played it as a college coach. And, why would that be? My pretty educated guess is that I always heard the exact same words, but I was listening from a totally different experience level. Said yet another way… Years later as I prepped to coach in the pros, I was hearing things and visualizing my players’ movements as a guy who was far, far removed from youth hockey.
Okay, so here’s what I’m getting at… Re-listening to a program I’d already heard weeks ago tends to spark new thoughts, or ones that hadn’t struck me before. Ya, my focus is probably different each time I replay something, but so is my experience level.
The sum total of all that is the fact that I’ve come to really know my stuff about how the Internet can work.
Oh, boy… I’ve written at various times that I’d gotten a rash of bull about “knowing a lot of facts”, this from someone I used to value for their opinions. What (among other things) changed all that was my discovering the way a large collection of “facts” leads to common sense. In other words, the more background knowledge we have, the better our decisions.
What I’m getting at is that my scanning of ebooks, watching webinars, and listening to audio programs has poured a ton into my brain. In most instances, they add loads of slightly related — and even unrelated — “facts” to my knowledge base, and this has suddenly proven very, very helpful as I’ve gotten into some new projects…
Take, for example, the release of my new hockey coaching manual.
Thank God, but gone are the days when I had to deal with printing companies and the storing of hundreds of books, not to mention the taking of orders and the subsequent (snail) mailing that followed. Nope! Today it’s possible to automate every step of that process right over the Internet. Where did that knowledge come from? Well, I must admit that I’ve had a few friends who helped (big-time) along the way, mainly with the mechanical side of things. However, I knew all the involved theories from the so-called studying I’d done.
Better yet, I’ve been extremely psyched about the way lots of “facts” have gone into getting the word out about that manual. (Hey, as awesome as it is, my book won’t help a soul unless they first discover it exists!) Having so many friends between Twitter and Facebook surely helped there. As so did what I learned about newsletters, building backlinks, search engine friendliness, and so much more.
Then, the grand prize… I’d heard or read somewhere along the line that it’s helpful to have a website to compliment a given product. Hmmmmmm… With that, it struck me: that I should build a site where owners of my manual can congregate and discuss the various challenges involved in hockey coaching. And I’ve even more recently billed my manual as the one that keeps on growing and growing. After all, a coach can begin with what I give him or her, but the ideas should grow exponentially as he or she gets to interact with like minded people.
Finally, with all the talk to this point about my like for enewsletters, webinars and podcasts, I received a message this morning that kinda explains part of what I’ve experienced this week (with a little break from my rink assignments)…
Noah St. John is awesome in my book, mainly because he has a totally (and helpful to me) perspective on the old “positive self-talk” thing. Ya, Noah is famous for suggesting we ask ourselves lots of “Why” questions, rather than trying to convince our minds of something we probably know isn’t so.
Anyway, in this morning’s ezine, Noah is espousing our need to install “Goal-free Zones”, or time periods where our minds can be cleared for free, creative thinking. In a way, he suggests that we need times when we don’t intentionally think at all. He offered countless ways, although I know my favorites are walking and sometimes driving.
He continues, by describing how he flew through writing his own book by alternating 90-minute sessions at the keyboard with some form of a Goal-free Zone. And he says, “Sometimes, my break would include going out for a walk and enjoying the sunshine – and suddenly, an idea would pop into my head.” (I’ve related it often to others, that most of my best ideas came from walking a beach, resting in a hot tub, or driving the mountains.)
Noah continues, “… it often took the active process of getting away from my writing to allow my creative intuition to kick in and let itself be heard.”
So again, I’m not really glad to put the skates away this week, but I am psyched at all the things I’ve accomplished. I’ve loved not being rushed so much, or sometimes even having the time to create my own Goal-free Zones. I’m kinda proud for the way things are working out for my new hockey coaching manual, and I’m awfully thankful for the numerous and varied ideas I’d collected that helped so much with that.
Finally, as I typed that last paragraph, I was reminded of something my dad would always say…
“If you want to get something done quickly, go slowly.”
And, quite honestly, that advice has never, ever failed me.