Sunday, May 19, 2013

Coaching Error on Time-out Led to Leaf's Failure

     The time-out is one of the most powerful tactical tools in a coach's arsenal in hockey.  The time-out provides both players and coaches on the team calling it an opportunity to step back from the immediate moment of the game and to draw their attention to where they are and what they wish to accomplish.  To draw from physics it effectively breaks the momentum in the play bringing it to a period of rest allowing for both physical and mental rejuvenation. For the opposing team the time-out means that the momentum which they had is lost and they must start again and attempt to recapture the momentum which they left off at.  From a psychological point of view - the time-out - has the ability to provide the team calling it with a fresh start and renewed focus.

     When a team is up 4-1 in the third period of game 7 of a best of 7 series and the other team starts to dominate the play the most sensible and effective strategy is to stop the play by way of a time-out.  This for some reason did not happen in the Leaf's game 7 game against Boston.  Instead Boston kept dominating and with each goal they scored their opponents became more anxious, more vulnerable and less confident.  The more the Bruins came on without any interruption in the play to communicate a positive message to the overwhelmed Maple Leafs the less they believed in themselves.  Once fear overcame the Maple Leafs it was all over.  The job of a coach or mentor is to remove impediments such as fear and anxiety from their players.  The coach is a motivator and the task of motivating does not end simply because your team is up 4 - 1 late in the third period.  

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