Showing kids to play as team is the hardest thing to teach
Young players still want to be Bobby Orr
Tim Thomas coached football and soccer before adding hockey to his credentials. He hadn’t planned to be head coach this past fall but took on the commitment to fill a vacancy on his youngest son’s team.
How did you get into coaching hockey?
Thomas: I coached soccer for a long time and I was fairly successful at it. There was some crossover between soccer and hockey. Some hockey parents knew I coached soccer and suggested I coach hockey. I started getting into hockey about five, six years ago. The first team I coached was atom B. Your coaching philosophy?
Thomas: I’m a make-orbreak coach. I take it as ‘let’s build something coherent’ that does well. I hold myself to high standards. I was a university professor for 14 years and I got good results at that because I had set the bar (high) and keep it there.
You have to have confidence in what you are doing to be able to drive the kids with conviction. You take them seriously, they’ll take you seriously. It’s a reciprocal process. It’s a relationship I have with my players. Exceptional coaches are ones that get kids to overachieve. It’s way more fun when you win.
Let’s do something grand while we have these moments on this planet. It’s like anything: if you are going to do it, do it well. It’s more fun when you do it well.
Coaching is an exercise in psychology. You have to get the kids to be believe in themselves. Once you’ve done that, you’ve won the battle. If they don’t believe in themselves, they’re not going to achieve and they’re not going to have as much fun.
What do you focus on during practices?
Thomas: It’s skill development and positioning. Where they should be moving the puck to from each position.
What’s the hardest thing for a coach to teach?
Thomas: Not to play individually. To perceive of the process as a collective. A lot of them are very enamoured with their own skills and how they move. They all want to do it themselves, especially at this level. They want to be Bobby Orr, but they have to learn to use all the pieces of the puzzle, to use their team. It’s the hardest thing to teach, to fully understand the importance of not being individualistic.