Video gamers use controllers to dictate the action on the screen. In youth hockey, joystick coaches try to control all the action on the ice with their voices, shouting directions from the bench.
“You see it a lot in games at the youth level,” USA Hockey Coach-in-Chief for the Minnesota District Christian Koelling said. “You see a lot of coaches shouting instructions from the bench during the game. The odd thing is you don’t see any NHL coaches doing that. Even NHL players make mistakes but coaches don’t yell the entire game and try to tell them what to do every second.”
Hockey is a fluid, quick-thinking sport full of twists and turns. Players need to learn how to make decisions for themselves in real-time.
“Yelling doesn’t really provide any benefit because the players on the ice can’t even hear you most of the time,” Koelling said. “Even if they could, they won’t be able to make that play based on you yelling what to do.”
Additionally, it can have a negative impact for the kids that are closest to the bench boss.
“All the players that are on the bench are probably not too excited if coach is yelling play-by-play,” said Koelling, who is the director of hockey operations for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.
Good coaches can fall into this impulse during the heat of the moment. Koelling said that coaches need to consciously step back and remember kids need to learn on their own.
“There are ways coaches can help that process along but shouting instructions throughout the game doesn’t help produce results,” Koelling said.