Releasing the Game=The point in the progression when I let the game do more coaching than I do. This idea is built around trusting the game and the players enough to let them do their thing.

The ocean will teach you how to surf. The mountain will speak to you and show you a skiing line. When the players interact effortlessly with the game that’s when we know the game has been released to them.

My high school lacrosse coach Ian Patrick speaks of releasing the game to the players. Recently he told me the moment when he can remember it happening for me. When he completely handed off the next play. And when I went out and did whatever it was that I set out to do. We both then stood back and watched.

It’s like skiing downhill alongside of your dog.

It’s like climbing to the top of something with somebody.

But it’s not always easy for a coach to let go. To give. To trust that short simple sentences are enough.

And so we as coaches have to mindfully work at and practice that giving away of the game. And the players have to be ready to accept their opportunity.

We can best practice this laissez-faire while still engaged approach when we coach small area games in practice. Unlike drills that coaches administer we facilitate a small area game.

How to best coach small area games?

It’s best to have 2 coaches. The Gretzky is usually the higher hockey iq facilitator(ie. skilled coach or older player). That coach’s ability to facilitate just by the way he participates sets a higher level of thinking the game example- therefore he’s called the Gretzky. The coach who puts the puck in play is the shakespearean Puck character who indirectly yet precisely aims to instigate the game. The 50/50 new ball thrown into the ring doesn’t have to be 50/50. Creating flow, pace, tempo, competition with varied input is a coaching skill that can be developed through the repetition of facilitating small games over the course of a season. Telluride has some of the very best Puck-like coaches.

There’s a guy in town who knows next-to-nothing about hockey, but a lot about sports. And I’ve only seen one other person who was as good as him at the Puck role. His high level game making instincts allow the kids to discover the game, enter the game, come off the sidelines and then get back into the game. Next shift, next chance to play, sustained focus.

There’s something about that skill set, that all natural carnival barking god-given skill. To be able to naturally promote the experience, while becoming part of the experience. Enjoying the music so others can as well.

Thanks to all the great hockey coaches in Telluride.

Categories: Philosophy