Never underestimate the power of feedback. Whether positive or negative, it is absolutely critical to the success of every player and every team. We all want to know how we “stack up” so that we know how to improve. And when this feedback comes from people we not only respect, but also want to perform well for, like our coaches and college scouts, it can make or break our season and sometimes even our career.
Let me give you an example of feedback from my own hockey career that not only transformed my performance, but my entire team’s…
In my third year of college, our team was ranked #1 in the country for the entire season. We were a team of great players who started the year off on a 20-game winning streak.
Although we were a great team, we didn’t really have any true superstars. What I mean by that is that the majority of our players played a significant on-ice role in our team’s success and we didn’t rely on two or three players to carry the load. All three of our lines were legitimate scoring threats – our top three scorers all played on different lines. We had 3 defensive pairs that were equally strong and saw equal time on both the power-play and penalty-kill units. Our goalies rotated in the starting position – not because our coach wanted them to have equal ice time – but because they were both equally as good.
What a problem to have, right?
As you can imagine, most teams had a lot of trouble matching up with us because of the depth of our talent.
Our problem wasn’t our performance. It was that most players were having difficulty defining their role on the team and weren’t getting the feedback they needed to know how they stacked up.
For example, if you are the leading scorer on the team, you generally think that you will be out on the ice for every power-play situation and every time you are down a goal at the end of the game. If, as a goalie, you got a shut-out the night before, you expect to have the chance to play the next day.
It turned out that our greatest strength – depth – was also the biggest problem for us players, as well as for the coaches.
We continued our winning ways, but as we were getting closer to the playoffs, there was a strange feeling in the air. Some players were frustrated that they weren’t getting the opportunities to play that they felt they deserved. Others were nervous that they would lose their precious playing time once the playoffs began. We were no longer the happy, go-lucky #1 team that we had been at the beginning of the year, even though we were still ranked #1.
Our coaches could have just called each one of us into their office and asked us what we thought our role was and then told us what they believed our role was.
But they did something really great.
They turned our personalized feedback session into a team event.
Before practice, the coaches called us over to the boards. They told us that they realized we were struggling with identifying our individual roles on the team and wanted to take this opportunity to share their thoughts about each of us in front of the team. They pulled out cue cards with individual feedback on each player and proceeded to read each player’s card aloud right then and there.
Now before you get all worried about players getting embarrassed about hearing what the coaches really thought in front of the entire team, we were given the option of not having them read out the card. But no one took that option.
It was actually pretty neat to hear what the coaches really thought about each and every player on the team. The cards were very positive and focused on each player’s individual strengths and how those abilities benefited the team as a whole.
We all of a sudden knew exactly where each and every one of us stood, what we brought to the table and what we were going to be counted upon to do as we went into the playoffs so that the team would succeed. For the most part, the comments confirmed what we already knew and believed about each other. But the act of the coaches not only addressing the issue in front of the team, but doing so on an individual level, was transformative.
Long story short – I still have that card on my wall in my office. It is undoubtedly the most powerful piece of feedback I ever received in my entire hockey career. Every time I read it, it makes me so proud of what I was able to accomplish in my first 3 years at school, but even more proud of what our team achieved.
So never underestimate the power of feedback.
I would really appreciate if you could take a moment and give me a little bit of feedback about how Total Female Hockey can help you get to the next level? Whether you are a player, parent or coach, I want to help you achieve all of your goals for next season.
How Can Total Female Hockey help you?
Please post a comment in the comment box below and let me know what I can do to help.
I really appreciate it!
Your friend and coach,