Human Touch

“I ain’t looking for praise or pity, I ain’t coming around searching for a crutch. I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch……”
Bruce Springsteen
Human Touch

Two recent stories to share from the world of hockey. I recently had a young player that I am working with who is being recruited to play at a higher level. He was asked to get in touch with the coach of this team and I passed that information on to the player. The player said, “Sure, no problem…..do you have his cell phone number so I can text him?” That’s right……text him.

Story number two. At the same showcase event ,I heard a parent tell a story of two U16 players on a team that had been practicing together for two weeks, run into each other at their new school and not recognize each other until they passed each other a couple of times. (I guess they weren’t wearing their helmets…..) Now in fairness to the kids, they were new to the team and new to the school. But after two weeks of practice don’t you think they should know each other pretty well. This story went on for a while and then drifted into the parents talking more about the kids at a dinner texting each other from one end of the table to the other. I have heard many other stories of kids on a bus doing the same thing. Usually ends up in a little chuckle from the parents.
So, of course these stories now manage to translate to a new blog topic!
Sure, this is a topic that everyone is talking about but this blog is about hockey so this will pertain to hockey.
Now I really don’t want to sound like that ‘old’ guy who only talks about better days gone by but I am sure that I already do. I am not anti-tech or anti-social media at all. In fact I love it. Love Twitter. Love Facebook. Heck, you are reading this on a blog…..These are all phenomenal tools for information and great ways to enhance team communication. I just hope they are not going to replace team communication.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and on and on. Too many to keep track of. It seems like there is a whole group of young people and young players that are more confident expressing themselves on a keyboard than having a conversation with an actual live person. I know. I have three of them. So how does this affect them when it comes to hockey?
I am always fascinated by the amount of time, energy and money that is used to help players develop. It is amazing and parents and coaches should be commended. Athletes are always looking for the competitive ‘edge’. Something that separates them from the next player. This of course is when I chip in my opinion whether you agree with it or not. Here is a little training/recruiting tip that costs $0. Nothing….. Help your young player learn to converse better than the next player. Have them be able to sit down, look a potential coach directly in the eye and tell them why they would be good for their program and what their strengths as a player and person are. Here is the kicker…….they have to do it in MORE than 140 characters.
Coaches are human beings. (well most of them are….) They spend huge amounts of time with players after they recruit or draft them. They are looking to see what players are like off the ice as well. How they can stand up socially.
I recently talked to a college coach at a major Division 1 program and asked him about this situation concerning communication. Here is what he said;
If it is even close to deciding between two recruits, there is no doubt that the player that I have a good conversation with will be the one we go with. No doubt about it. Let’s face it. We have to deliver our message and it is important players can express themselves directly to us as well……we sure don’t want to read about their thoughts on Twitter…..” Interesting point.
So what can be done to help our young players?
Here are some ideas that some people have shared with me and by all means let me know any suggestions you might have as well so we can share.
Obviously, challenge them to talk more. But not just to you. To their teammates, coaches, friends, teachers, neighbors…..etc. Explain to them how important this could be to them and why. Appeal to their desire to get better at hockey. This is hockey. This is part of them being a complete player.
Have designated times to put the cell phones away. Maybe during meals. On the team bus. In the locker room. Wherever you think you can and it is allowable. Have them change roommates on the road. Maybe as coaches encourage them to speak in team meetings. Run a video session.
Get them comfortable talking to other adults. Maybe ask your coach or team manager if they would host a mock recruiting or draft interview. I know of a coach that video taped the interviews and had the players watch themselves speak and try to improve. Anything that will challenge them. Let’s get them out of their comfort zone. We do it for them when it comes to training and coaching. The same should be done when developing their ability to communicate. It would be a shame to do all the right things to help your player develop and everything gets ruined by a bad interview with a coach.
That is something you don’t want to read about on Twitter……….

 Please encourage everyone to share this blog on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. And yes even through word of mouth…….:)

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