Ask the Coach: Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss talks team building

Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly column featuring Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney.

The Chilliwack Chiefs went cave diving in Hope last week as part of an early-season team-building exercise.

That leads into this week’s Ask the Coach question from Dale Randchine, directed at Chilliwack Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney.

What’s the most interesting team-building experience you’ve been a part of?

I was playing in Germany and we took a trip to the Austrian Alps.

We didn’t know what to expect because they didn’t tell us much, but it was something right out of a movie. They took us on a tour bus to this chalet at the top of a mountain and they split us into two groups.

One group did a lot of rapelling and harness work, and the other group got, wetsuits almost, and had to rapel down waterfalls and work their way from the top of the mountain down to the bottom.

There was one station where you were blindfolded and you had to trust your teammate to harness you up properly, clip you onto a zipline and send you off.

They told me to take my blindfold off when I came to a halt, and when I did I was probably 300-500 feet in the air over a crevasse.

That was mind-blowing.

The waterfall group, you buddied up with someone and the farther down you went the more intense the waterfalls were. We were walking on the side of cliffs and working our way under the waterfalls.

We had to make sure we clipped onto each other and worked together.

We bungie-jumped off cliffs and worked our way through obstacles in a forest. As a player you sometimes worry that it’s going to be gimicky and it’s not going to fun, but I was blown away when we finished all that at how close we were.

We ended with a big dinner and talked about it.

That was late in my career and I’d never experienced anything so intense. I just remember how well it brought the team together.

At the minor hockey level and even our junior A level, it’s tricky for a coach to find something that’s fun but that the kids will also take seriously and not just be goofing around.

Last year we (the Chiefs) worked through one with the fire department and took all their physical testing and stuff.

All the guys enjoyed cheering and chirping at each other.

We were hauling hoses up stairs and dragging dummies across a parking lot and that was fun. They took us through a maze in the dark to simulate, if there’s a fire you’ve got to crouch low and get under the smoke. That was pretty neat because you’re trusting your teammate on where to go and where to put your hands and feet.

You don’t stop to think how much you rely on your teammates.

Whether it’s supporting the puck, or trusting him to bump it to you or pass it to you in an area, you don’t see him but you’ve got to trust that he’s there, or trust that you’re not trying to do everyone’s job.

We teach our guys that if you’re good at your job and everyone else is good at their job you’re probably going to have success as a team.

But if you’re running around thinking you’ve got to do everyone else’s job, it gets chaotic.

And hockey players are such creatures of habit.

We eat at the same restaurants.

We do the same drills and same daily routine and it’s just nice to get guys out of their comfort zone and do things where they have to rely on each other.

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