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Five C’s of Excellent Youth Coaches


Excellent coaches know how and when to provide feedback or support, to hold kids accountable and to do so in a manner that builds players’ motivation and confidence.

Coaches are the face of every youth sport organization. They have the opportunity to lead, inspire and develop young players on a daily basis, and how they approach that responsibility has a decisive impact on what players and parents think about their association and the sport itself.

We took a look back at past nominations from our Coaching Excellence Award program, which annually recognizes youth hockey coaches in Minnesota, to share what players and parents felt made certain coaches their favorites.

Here are the five most common characteristics.


The first step in becoming an excellent coach is truly caring about the players as individuals, as well as a team. Coaches who take the time to connect and create relationships with each player and provide feedback and accountability in a positive way often leave a long-lasting impression on their young players.


Every parent wants their player to learn more than sport specific skills while playing hockey so it’s no surprise coaches who place an emphasis on teaching life lessons are among their favorites. Whether it’s taking time to explain how situations or challenges in hockey relate to life or organizing community service projects for the team, placing a focus on developing character is a sign of a great coach.


The ability to communicate efficiently, effectively and in a positive tone with kids is critical to everything a coach does. Excellent coaches know how and when to provide feedback or support, to hold kids accountable and to do so in a manner that builds players’ motivation and confidence.


Coaches are role models for kids, and that means setting a good example, including a commitment towards timeliness, professionalism, and improvement. Players and parents notice how coaches interact with officials, prepare for practice and how they respond to mistakes. Excellent coaches are committed to being a great role model and becoming the best coach they can be.


Last but certainly not least, excellent coaches always find a way to make hockey engaging and fun for kids. All coaches can and should find ways to create a captivating environment that motivates kids to come to the rink. A couple of examples we received in our nominations included a coach who would occasionally wear a goal light on top of his helmet at Mite/8U practice, coaches who organized themed practices and several who hosted team bonding nights away from the rink.

If your child’s youth hockey coach showcases these qualities, Minnesota Hockey, in partnership with Park Dental, encourages you to nominate him or her for a Coaching Excellence Award. The Coaching Excellence Award Program annually recognize youth hockey coaches at all levels whose behaviors provide for a positive athletic experience, allowing players to develop to their greatest potential, have fun and learn to love the game.

Selected coaches will have the opportunity to attend a Minnesota Wild practice during the 2019-20 season, and all coaches meeting the award’s criteria will receive a recognition certificate.

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Issues & Advice Minnesota Hockey