Celebrating Wins and Dealing With Losses

As the regular season winds down for most of us, there are all kinds of stories about post game reactions to winning and losing. There is some great stuff happening out there along with the occasional horror story. Here are some observations from this past season.

Celebrating Wins

Most of us feel we shouldn’t get too high after a big win. But there should be a way for all to enjoy the ‘thrill of victory’ when it happens. Players typically don’t need the coach to give them a pat on the back after a game well played. That said, there should be a way for teams to recognize and enjoy success.

What we have established with our team are two presentations to recognize achievement. After identifying the overall positives from a game, the head coach turns the team over to the player who was presented with the Game Puck from the previous win. This player then briefly describes the performance of a team mate and presents him with the game puck for tonight’s game.

Next is the Hard Hat Award that goes to the player who put in that extra effort to help secure the win. It is also presented by the payer who won the award the previous win. It is an actual hard hat with a team logo that the winner displays in his stall until the next presentation.

Team celebrations can be as simple as a three cheers together as a team. Build these positive events into the fabric and culture of your team.

Handling Losses

Just like we don’t like to get too high after a win, we should guard against getting too low after a loss. One story from this season was about a team that won 19 games in a row, lost game 20 in overtime, and the coach berated the team after the game. This is not exactly a proud moment in coaching.

A loss is an opportunity to learn and grow as a team and individually. The coach can simply put the game in context for the players following the loss. Let the players leave the rink with a positive lesson to take back to the rink next time. If you can’t find something constructive to say, then say nothing until you have figured out the proper teaching points. Wait until the next practice to address the team.

Playing and coaching should be a positive and fun experience. Be sure to use the post game as a time to accent these points.

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