Monday, March 12, 2018

Teaching and Coaching the Mental Game


As many of you know I coach youth ice hockey and a couple of weeks ago I attended a conference for my Level 4 USA Hockey Coaching Certification.  This conference was held over 3 days and comprised of about 16 speakers around youth sports, athletics, and ice hockey.  The topics ranged from nutrition and safety to hockey strategy to leadership and coaching.  As part of this certification I had to write a short thesis on one of the subjects presented.  Probably no surprise to many of you I wrote about teaching and coaching the mental game of hockey.  Since there is so much synergy between this and teaching and coaching for Lean in operations I thought I would share some of this with you.


For me I think the section I related to the most and found the most insightful was by Dr. Wayne Halliwell on Teaching and Coaching the Mental Game of Hockey. His talk was about inspiring excellence in today’s athletes and similarly my day job is about inspiring operational excellence. It is important for Teachers and Coaches to have the right mindset. It starts with understanding this is a privilege and a great opportunity.

Dr. Halliwell shared John Wooden’s philosophy on life and coaching. The two sets of 3’s consisted of never lie, never cheat, never steal, don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses. Remember if you point fingers at others there are always three fingers pointing back at you. Coaches and leaders inspire through passion. Passion is not something you can fake and is not something you can hide.

According to Coach Marc Trestman leaders have two primary goals: The first is to serve others, the second is to bring out the hidden value of every member of the team. Leaders set process goals for the team to improve and performance goals around execution and work ethic. Focus on the process and the performance and the results will look after themselves. Dr. Halliwell added that the only thing that matters to get you from here to there in the next five years is the books you read and the people you talk to. I think he has a good point.

Leaders should make the unnoticed noticed. This is done by motivating your team members. The three most powerful motivators are recognition, appreciation, and gratitude. In the workplace there is no motivator with more impact than purpose-based recognition. There is little that people won’t do if they really feel appreciated. Gratitude is a positive emotion which shows thoughtfulness and touches people’s hearts.

Dr. Halliwell concluded his presentation with five elements to lead today’s athletes. The five elements are:


• Understand them
• Empathize with them
• Communicate with them
• Connect with them
• Inspire them


These elements are vital in leading athletic teams, work teams, and other teams in our life. The lessons Dr. Halliwell shared will help me have the right mindset to inspire others to achieve their excellence.



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