How to Get Hockey Players Out of Their ‘Comfort Zone’

How to get students out of their ‘Comfort Zone’

This topic was posed by one of Prodigy-Hockey’s newsletter subscribers. Specifically, the question was asked: “How do I (Brian Keane) get my students of their comfort zones?” It’s a great area of discussion and something I’m sure most coaches and teachers are challenged with regularly. I truly believe that all of my students need to have a specific game plan, teaching approach, psychological approach.

In that light, what I’ve tried to do is make sure the students feel comfortable with me and the group, thus creating a safe environment. Admittedly, it does not work 100% of the time especially right out of the gates at the start of the season. I find many kids are nervous and worried about making mistakes in front of coaches or teammates, so instead of pushing themselves, they try to look cool. However, once you’ve built trust with a student and they feel comfortable with you and the group, you can cater to the needs of that individual’s personality type more effectively. With that comfort, you are able to break through the wall of their insecurity and simply teach. With any of my teams, clinics, small groups, or lessons I also make sure that every kid knows he’ll be pushed outside of his comfort zone. Having a great attitude starts with being prepared to be “comfortable getting uncomfortable.” This is not easy for kids but allows them to push their limits. This will be an ongoing battle every time you’re on the ice, but I’ve found if you present yourself properly, show the kids you care, and build the desired environment, kids will go the extra mile.

A few ideas for helping players get out of their ‘Comfort Zone’

  • Talk to the kids about the process that they must go through to make gains. Failing is a part of learning, its OK to fail. It’s all about reps and feeling their way through skills that don’t come easily.
  • Don’t allow one kid to make fun of another for trying hard or working on his game. I’ve had a few of these kids and they can be a cancer to the environment you’re trying to build. Identify these kids early and make sure they’re not hindering another student’s development. The environment you create is very important.
  • Make sure the kids know what they’re working towards. When describing a drill, first show the end result and then the building blocks it takes to get there. Usually, this will allow the player to see what they need to do to make progress and succeed at the final product.

Now it’s your turn, leave a comment below with a strategy you use to help players get of of their own way!