If you play hockey long enough you will run into a Coach that decides, you’re healthy but you’re not going to play. So you become a "HEATHLY SCRATCH". It may be for a shift, game, consecutive games, or an entire season. How you respond could dictate not only your season but your entire career.
In my opinion there are 3 scenarios that lead up to riding the pine.
Option A: The coach benches you because he thinks you’re a liability on the ice.
Option B: The coach thinks other players are better than you. (You perceive said players to be plugs. They’re your teammates so you would go through the wall for them, but yeah plugs.)
Option C: You see no reason why the coach benches you. He/She must be out to get you.
Option A: First take a look in the mirror. For the "most part" coaches are rational people with the same goal as you. WINNING GAMES. If you’ve had a string of bad games or shifts then the coach is going to look to another player to get the job done. Yeah it hurts sitting on the bench as your line mates mix it up out on the ice. You wouldn’t be getting this newsletter if you didn’t feel that way. But a coach can’t afford for you to find your way out of this black hole in game situations.
How to solve the problem: Work your way out of it in practice. Go over the past couple of games where you stumbled. If you have video, review it. If not then try to reconstruct the mistakes in your mind. Learn from them. Then forget them. You need to have a positive mindset as you move forward, not listening to the negative voice inside your head, playing tentative and afraid of making mistakes. Go back to the 80/20 rule from the book and focus on your strengths. Over the next couple of practices and on your own time work extra hard and put in some overtime. It will pay off and you’ll get out of the coaches doghouse.
Option B: Look to Option A. Are you in a slump or hurting the team when out on the ice? If so, then as stated above, work your way out of it through practice. If you don’t believe you’re playing bad then set up a meeting with the coach. If you are old enough to understand and read this email then talk to the coach yourself, not your parents. At least at first. And make sure it’s in a RESPECTFUL WAY. Once you get his/her side of the story and realize that he’s not punishing you because you have red hair or some other crazy thought your brain has cooked up, then you have a workable option to get out of this mess. 99% of the time there’s something you can fix. If after a week or a couple of weeks you feel you have worked hard and nothings changed then meet with him/her again. Coaches will notice your work ethic and give you more opportunities.
Option C: If you talked with the coach in Options B and didn’t like his answer. Basically he said something to the effect of "your never going to play no matter what." Then you have a problem. This is very rare but he/she may not like you as a person or feel that he was forced to put you on the team for political reasons. Talk with your parents/agent/prior coaches and develop a plan of action. The most important thing is to remain positive. It’s not your teammate’s fault that you and the coach don’t get along, plus no team is going to want you if you’re not a team player. If you’re absolutely stuck in the current situation then make the most of it. The coach can’t stop you from practicing. And you’re doing the same drills as everyone else. A player will handle the puck for an average of less than 1 minute per game. In practice you will handle the puck at least 10 times that amount. Prove the coach wrong by giving 100% percent in every practice. It’s your only option if you love the game.
Unless you’re Wayne Gretzky you will run into Option A and even he was probably benched in his career. Unless you’re a superstar you will run into Option B. I feel for you if you run into Option C.
The main thing is to stay positive-no matter how hard it may be- and use practice to better yourself.
Good luck with the season,
courtesy of Brett Henning