What we talk about… at practice and on the bench

Comfort Zone

One of the concepts that constantly comes up is being “out of your comfort zone.“ During power skating: I want you to be comfortable being uncomfortable. If you are finding this easy you need to get over on your edges more, do it faster or more powerfully, get lower, push yourself to the edge of your abilities. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.


I like it when you fall. It means you are pushing. Ever watch Jonathan Toews, or Zach Parise two of my favorite hockey players? They are on their knees all the time.

Dead Rabbits

I tell stories about dead rabbits. You know all those bunnies you see dead on the road? They are the ones that evolved to run straight ahead. The ones that stop and start and change directions are the survivors. You need to be like them. Put on the brakes. Stop, start, change directions as you protect the puck. That is hell on defenders. If you stop and start three times those defensemen from Anchorage are probably going to just quit on trying to stop you, and you will be able to create some space and roll off the wall and make a good play


See you at noon hockey. What time does that start again?

How far we’ve come

We talk about how well they are doing. Remember how you couldn’t do skate backwards a few months ago. Tell why we need to work on these mechanics – backwards c carves — which is being comfortable being on one skate while carrying the puck because it becomes the transition step to forward and a pass.


I like to express the ideal when it is least likely to be apparent. It might get a chuckle or maybe some confused stares. A night when practice is particularly slow and players are struggling I’ll say something like: “Hockey is a game of explosive speed!” Or when the Divas have no jump, are hung over or getting beat to the puck consistently, I might say, “remember your bodies are pure energy!”


If you can see yourself doing it, it can be done. “Ok, If you had a date with your ideal partner. I realize most of you are already with your ideal partners so maybe you have been away from each other for a long time, and you have one special date. Would you just begin the night without a plan and see what happens? No. Same thing with hockey. You need to play over in your mind all of the good plays you are going to make. Visualize all of the best plays. When you do this deliberately it is more likely to happen as you hope for.”

Skill Transference

“One game I heard a Diva yell from the bench, “Go all the way!” and it occurred to me. This is the problem. I finally get it. All of you as young ladies were told by your parents not to go all the way. This is why you pass it rather than carry it when you have open ice. Are you feeling guilty about going all the way?”

Show it and take it away. “I know women know how to do that. You should be good at this skill. I see it all the time off the ice. When you stick handle don’t just hang that puck out there on your stick for someone to poke away. Move your hands. Be deceptive. Show it and take it away.”

“Two on ones are a special situation. It is like having a date with….. pick a hunk or movie star. You want to make the most of the situation. You might not score but you want to get a scoring chance out of it – at least get a shot on goal….. Now a two on o is even better, you should be able to score.”


This is the one I use the most: “My hat’s off to you. Anyone who is willing to learn a new sport or anything new as an adult is awesome in my estimation and deserves everyone’s respect. Here you are falling down and struggling with something new. Do you realize how much you have improved? Look at you, you couldn’t even skate backwards a few months ago and now you are carrying the puck and crossing over. You couldn’t lift a shot and now you are hitting the top shelf target areas.

Lifelong Fun

The skills you are acquiring are yours to keep for as long as you play the game. Hockey is a sport you can have fun with for a long time. Once you know how to shoot you will be able to shoot the rest of your careers. You might as well figure it out now. The reason why we practice is so you will be confident in your skills. We do these skills so we have confidence that we can perform them in a game.”


In the locker room after a disappointing loss or performance: “Well that was a bad game, but I know you are all slightly more intelligent, better looking and nicer to your children than the ladies on that other team.”

Unconscious habits

You as coach should be suggesting things like this: An experienced player is having trouble telegraphing her passes. “Leslie, you are a good player, but if you could make one adjustment you will improve your game. Everyone on the ice knows right where you want to pass. Remember opponents read three things: your eyes, the blade of your stick and your body orientation. If you can practice this simple look-off pass, or if you move your hands to cover your intention, or if you use this misdirect move and come out the weak side, you are going to be hard to read by the other team.” Leslie later thanked me for taking the time to point that out and she felt that once she was conscious of the play she could easily correct it.

Soft hands, great eyes, good jump

Just like at the highest levels of hockey we want the Divas to think about having nice soft hands to patiently control the puck. We want to get our heads up and see the ice, see our support, and see the target shooting areas. And we want to be quick to the puck in all areas of the ice. Good players get to the puck first or get the puck by taking it away from others. So have soft hands, great eyes (vision) and good jump (quick to the puck).

Wet gear

At tournaments players might complain about having to put on wet gear. I tell them there’s nothing better than putting on wet gear. It means you are playing for money, made it to the cross-overs, advancing in the tournament. I’ve heard Divas proudly recite this over the years.

Hockey Quiz

Who do you think is the cutest guy in the Olympics? Ryan Kessler? Hendrik Lundquist? Patrick Kane? Cutest girl?

Christian Rule of Passing

Use the Christian rule of passing: give it like you want it back. Don’t send some junk wobbly pass in her skates if you don’t want one like that back to you.