Building Compete

My personal mindset is one of compete.  It often manifests itself in sport, or perhaps that’s the most obvious outlet.  It does however permeate my personal drive in my day to day life.  It’s not about lack of contentment, it’s about trying to continually get better.  I think I’m a decent cook/baker, and there are a few recipes that are locked down, but I generally continue to tweak every thing I make to see if I can make it better.  Same with work.  Everytime someone says no, I see it as an opportunity.  I’ve made a career out of it frankly… and about 20 years faster than most.  I know what I can accomplish and really dislike not meeting that level of effort.

The largest challenge I have had with this is projecting this mindset onto other people.  It was a real hurdle in my 20s, and as I’ve grown (let’s say matured), it’s been easier to just let people be themselves.  Rather I just lead by example, and people are typically motivated enough by that alone.  Certainly is the case in my men’s hockey.


With my own kids, this is a really tough skill set to teach.  Even leading by example is hard, because they don’t quite grasp what success/failure means in most activities.  Guitar is a good example.  I’m quite bad at it, but the kids think I’m solid.  Plus, there’s the superhero complex kids have with their parents, where we are infallible.  They will be teens or low 20s before they can look back and understand what it actually took to get through these years.

One thing I’m really not good at (but again, my kids think I’m good at) is visual arts.  I’m more in the architecture space, rather than the painterly one.  Before the spring hits, I’ll be investing in some art supplies, Bob Ross videos, and some happy mistakes.


I’ve coached boys competitive in the past. There are dips in compete, but generally they get the concept of compete.  They know that they can’t win if they don’t have the puck, and will have a very high drive to get it back once they lose it.

For the past two years, I’ve been coaching girls house.  House is the where players learn the sport and play for fun.  And girls (at this age at least) are certainly as good as boys, there’s just a WHOLE lot less of them in the sport.  Like 10:1 ratio in my area.  That leaves two challenges here.

  1. Instill a sense of compete in the house girls, where only a fraction have it innately
  2. Get more girls in the sport

And 1 cannot come at the expense of 2, so it’s not like I can push the girls extra hard… they need to have fun and spread the sport around by word of mouth.  If it was boys comp… well that’s pretty easy, there’s a lineup of other boys wanting that spot.

I don’t have an answer to this yet.  The other coaches are in a similar spot, and they have many years of experience between them.  As frustrating as it is to watch someone underachieve continually, it’s infinitely more rewarding to see them meet that potential and make the link of effort –> reward.  Sometimes that clicks for a long time, sometimes it’s an etch-a-sketch and they’ve forgotten about it by the next game.

I think I’ve got some reading to do.

2 thoughts on “Building Compete

  1. Is “compete” that important in Girls house league? My niece just loves skating with friends. Games tend to naturally bring out compete, and the older age groups of girls hockey is VERY competitive. I think it is just something that they learn over time. Our hockey organization is working on measuring sticks to ensure what we are doing moves the needle on DEVELOPMENT, FUN, and SUCCESS. The order of that depends on the level : In AA kids are having FUN by DEVELOPING and having SUCCESS. In A, our kids focus on development first, fun second, and success third (the goal of A is to prepare kids to make the jump to AA and have a great representative hockey experience.). Our House league is FUN first, then development, then success. Some will spend their entire hockey lives just loving the game of hockey and have no desire to move past it.

    How you coach, and setup practices, is important depending on what goals you want. And we are setting up ,measurements for each to see if we are doing the right things there.

    Its still early in the discussion but it has been interesting as we have a wide range of “new school” hockey people, and “old school” hockey people. You can imagine the differing views right there!


    • Lots of questions here.

      Compete isn’t anywhere close as to having fun in girls hockey, certainly house. And you’re right in that as they get older, they get more competitive. There are also many fewer girls at older groups, and from within our league, its the ones who are just in it for the skate who drop out.

      Psych-wise, it’s around 9/10 years of age where the girls start linking their performance to outcomes. They decide not to skate, and they get beat, and there’s a goal. Had a recent tourney where of the 9 goals scored against, 8 of them were on one girl – one who has a very high level of potential but very limited drive. She was depressive halfway in that mess, and getting her out of it is like a full time job.

      Having fun in HL is the main goal, 100%. Not many girls have fun losing 8-0 because they watched the game rather than played. Certainly less so when they’ve already beaten that team in the past. Makes for a long game, a quiet dressing room, and some interesting car rides home.

      If they learn something over time, then that infers that it’s teachable. I’m really interested in how the practices can be modified to put in fun things to do that help foster that compete drive.

      In terms of old school vs new, I’m in the latter class. It’s making for some, uh, interesting conversations with other coaches and parents.


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