Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly feature where Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney gives unfiltered answers to questions from the fans.
With Christmas just around the corner, Thomas Telm asks, ‘Junior A players often seem to take a development leap coming back from the break. Am I imagining that, or is it really a thing?’
We demand a lot from these kids at this level, and it’s sometimes great for them physically and mentally — people need to realize it’s OK to take a step back and miss the game a little bit.
I don’t think we do that enough, even through minor hockey and other sports.
As parents and coaches, we’re always trying to ram it down the athletes’ throat as far as information overload. Sometimes it’s good for the athlete to miss it and have that itch to come back and get better.
Especially at the junior level, you’re away from family quite a bit.
It’s sad but it’s part of becoming a professional athlete, and because you’re in sports, it’s an entertainment business.
So that means Christmas tournaments or other things that are put on for families to go to when their kids are out of school, but we’re the ones putting on the show.
We don’t get to be around our family very much, and for a lot of our kids it’s their first time being away from their family. They’ve done a good job taking that next step in life and showing independency, but I’m a huge believer in taking a step back and being around the ones you love.
That can reset you mentally and physically, and once it’s over it’s like a fresh athlete for you.
As far as what we tell them when they leave for Christmas, I think our athletes know by now where we stand on conditioning and stuff like that.
Our expectations were dumped into these guys early on when they first got here, so they know exactly how I feel about fitness and the importance of maintaining your body away from the arena.
For me to stand up and keep spreading that message, it’ll become old even if it is the correct message. We want them to enjoy the break and use it to their advantage. Have fun and enjoy being around your family, and just make sure you’re not taking steps back.
As for the coaches, I’m getting away for a handful of days to be around my family. I moved away when I was 15 and I’ve barely been home since.
Something I have to learn is to take time for myself, and I haven’t been good at it lately, burning the candle at both ends.
As a player you’re so focused and mentally and physically exhausted, but at the end of the game a good athlete is able to shut it off until the next practice or game. As a new coach, I’ve noticed it never shuts off.
You’re constantly thinking about ways to get more out of your players, and if I’m not around them I always feel guilty that I’m not having a conversation with a kid to help him improve.
So me not being around them for a few days will hopefully allow me to know they’re in a good place with their families and they’re OK.
Hopefully the players and coaches come back with a good positive attitude and a boost of energy and we can have a good strong finish.
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