Enhancing Coach Education

USA Hockey's New Coach Training Curriculum

Iceland became the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup in 2018 with around 350,000 people. About half the size of greater Akron, Ohio.

This came on top of their Euro 2016 performance - tying Portugal (the eventual champions) 1-1, knocking out England 2-1, and only losing out to France (who became World Cup champions in 2018).

Joke from 2016:

In 2012 they were ranked 131 in the world and by 2018 they reached 18th. Amazing. So how did they do it???

A large portion of credit comes from having great coaches. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a massive focus on upgrading coaching talent. Now in Iceland, 70% of the coaches have at least a UEFA B license, and the remainder have a UEFA A license. Think Level 4 and 5 USA hockey or NCPP High Performance for Hockey Canada.

Even the players are taught how to coach. It’s not uncommon for a U17 player to be an assistant for the younger levels and have their basic coaching license.

Fun fact - If you talk with coaches, it’s unanimous that they were much better players after they quit playing and started coaching. That knowledge is powerful.

Old USA Hockey

When looking at coach development there are two large areas that federations explore.

  • What to coach

  • How to coach

Most commonly you’ll see what to coach. Old level 1 Manual + Old level 2 Manual

For years, the coaching education has been a bit of a a snooze-fest for presenters and attendees. The past curriculum focused on getting coaches to understand the role of a coach and be able to run an effective practice and introduction to hockey side of things.

These manuals required a lot from the coaches to do on their own to feel comfortable and digest the material into something that works for them. While being quality content, the focus was on content rather than the coaches and adult learners themselves.

Now, USA Hockey level 1 + 2 is valuable for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an ex-NHL player or brand new hockey parent. We would even recommend coaches to go back and take them again.

USA Hockey Revamp with US Center for Coaching Excellence

'It's not just what you coach. It's how you coach' - The new USA Hockey mantra

USA Hockey is redeveloping their coaching education in partnership with the US Center for Coaching Excellence to push coaching standards higher.

Now the focus is fully turned on meeting the coaches where they are as adult learners and teaching the skills of teaching. The best part is that the content is being presented in an interactive basis that helps coaches pull on their own life experiences.

The content focus is on ability to teach rather than transmit information. Within the new coach education roadmap there are key areas of focus:

  • Teaching coaches how to teach

  • Enhancing coach developers so they can deliver material in an engaging manner

  • Asking questions effectively

  • Co-journey rather than just giving information and leaving

The overall goal is to have these coaches/adult learners to connect with their own experiences and connect the dots. Coaches have many life experiences to draw upon and many skills they’ve developed. USA Hockey wants to tap into that experience and those skills.

At the end of the day, coaching is teaching. It’s just a matter of the venue and in our case it’s a hockey rink. The new curriculum allows all of these coaches to transfer their experiences and skills into effective coaching.

American Development Model (ADM)

Where does the ADM fit into this?

In 2009, USA Hockey developed and instituted the ADM to help with retention and developing better players through age-appropriate training. It’s been so successful that the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), in partnership with the National Governing Bodies (NGBs), adopted tenants of the model in 2014.

The ADM is the content within the coaching curriculum. It’s a way to delivering effective development principles and activities.

With the new curriculum focusing on providing tools that every coach can improve from and the ADM providing effective guiding development principles, it’s going to be only a matter of time before other federations follow.

USA Hockey Coach Education

As we noted earlier, we recommend the new USA Hockey coaching curriculum to everyone. It’s powerful stuff for all ages and abilities. Personally, we really enjoy how engaging the program is and how the program applies everyone.

As seen in Iceland, we expect to see a rising tide of talent from the USA into the future due to increased skill of the coaches and mentors.

If you’d like to sign up for the next coaching education program (CEP) over on usahockey.com/coachingclinics


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