The Positive Coaching Trend: How NHL Coaches Are Building Confidence in Young Players
Following one of his nine seasons coaching the Winnipeg Jets, Paul Maurice had an idea: Could he be more intentional about the video he showed his players? The eighth-seeded Florida Panthers are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final; thus, Maurice’s project’s successful implementation. How many times did they have to show a system before it appeared in a game? Could they identify lag time from a teaching moment on video to tangible success on the ice? Additionally, Maurice wanted to quantify something deeper: Was his clip selection affecting players’ psyche and performance?
Maurice and his staff embarked on an offseason project, from Monday to Thursday, reviewing everything to improve and maximize video sessions in one whole summer. They labeled each clip in one of three categories: positive clip, teaching clip, and negative clip. The analytics department took it from there, and they couldn’t help but notice a pattern. The coaches realized that they were getting results and seeing more success when they were showing more positive clips.
The shift towards positive reinforcement in coaching is a massive trend in the NHL. Coaches are finding that it’s more productive to build up confidence through encouragement rather than hitting players with constant criticism. Especially with young millennials and Generation Z, the bully coach no longer survives.
Workplaces across multiple industries are adapting as younger generations crave different environments with less negativity than their predecessors. Historically, that had contrasted with the high-pressure, demanding nature of professional sports. Not anymore. It has become noticeable, leading to periods of self-reflection and a shift in societal norms, including a new emphasis on mental health.
Many players interviewed for this article pushed back on the idea that coaching has to be all positivity all the time or that the NHL has fully transformed. However, Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen reflected that a balance is needed, and Colorado coach Jared Bednar does this effectively, communicating openly with players while providing feedback.
The positive coaching trend exemplifies how the NHL adapts to societal changes affecting the working environment across industries. Coaches need to find the balance between positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, emphasizing a player’s strengths and acknowledging their weaknesses. This way, they focus on improving while building their confidence.