5 Things Hockey Coaches HATE Seeing Their Players Do (that you’re probably doing)

Ben LevesqueCoaching, On-Ice Skills6 Comments

5 things hockey coaches hate by built for hockey

It’s rare that a hockey player gets under a coach’s skin for no reason.

Usually, coaches bench or reduce a player’s ice-time due to bad attitude, bad decision-making, or an obvious lack of work ethic.

Still, it usually ends up being specific actions that really throw coaches over the top and get them to the point where they’ve just had enough.

In the past, I wrote about what coaches and scouts look for in a hockey player.

Today, I’m sharing 5 things that coaches HATE seeing their players do—and the worst part, most of them you probably don’t even realize you’re doing.

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So if you’ve been getting less ice-time recently, if your teammates aren’t happy with the way you’re playing, or if you’re just not getting the attention you deserve from the coaching staff, the following 5 things might be the reason.

By the end, you’ll know exactly what NOT to do to make sure you stay in your coach’s good book!

Here goes nothing…

1. Hiding in line

hiding in hockey practice line

(credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Did the title throw you off?

That’s because this one has to do with practice (and yes, we talkin’ bout practice)

I’m referring to the player that tries to hide in line during practice.

You know, the player that hides behind the others because he’s tired, the drill is hard, or he’s scared to make a mistake

Every team has one. Don’t let that be you.

And the worst part is you might even do it without realizing it. But trust me when I say that your coach does realize it.

It looks really bad.

It shows a lack of commitment, a lack of understanding, and a lack of preparedness on your part.

Not to mention, it’s an easy way to get on your coach’s bad side.

Instead of hiding, show your coach you’re focused and ready by being first in line to start the drills whenever possible. Not only will your coach notice your level of preparedness, but you’ll also get more drill repetitions in which means you’ll develop faster.

It’ll also force you to be sharp and pay attention when your coach is talking so that you’re ready to start the drill off on the right foot.

2. Brutal body language

brutal body language tantrum in hockey

(credit: The Leafs Nation)

I’ve touched on this before with my post on body language in hockey.

Not much to say here other than the fact that coaches HATE players with bad body language.

If you’re the type of player that:

  • slams your stick after a play
  • sulks when your ice-time gets reduced
  • shakes your head when a teammate makes a bad play
  • throws your arms in the air after a bad call by the ref

then you’re a victim of bad body language, and your coach wants none of it!

That’s not to mention the mouthing off, talking back, or any negative verbal communication that many players are accustomed to.

Doing any or all of these things makes it that much easier for your coach to leave you on the bench.

Besides, bad body language is known to destroy your performance. Why even have any of it?

Cut it out of your game. Both you AND your coach will be better off.

3. Playing the lazy game

Ahhh yes, playing the lazy game.

Another one you might not notice yourself doing but that your coach is definitely taking note of.

Back-checking with your legs straight shows that you’re not putting in the effort and that defense is just an after-thought for you—don’t do that (see below).

Hanging back or slowing down on the fore-check just so that the opposing player gets there first and you don’t have to take a hit shows that you’re scared, undetermined and not willing to pay the price—don’t do that!

Positioning yourself badly so that you don’t have to get out and block a shot shows that you’re not committed and willing to do what it takes to win—don’t do that!

Hooking an opponent or taking any kind of penalty due to being behind the play shows that you’re just plain lazy—don’t do that!

I can go on and on, but if any part of your game is lazy, you can bet your bottom dollar that your coach sees it and HATES it.

And to those who ‘fake‘ a hard back-check by moving their arms & head more than their legs, you’re not fooling anyone!

Stop playing the lazy game and it’ll help keep you on the ice. These 3 simple words will help you out.

Coaches will NOT do you any favors if your work ethic sucks—no matter how skilled you are.

4. Playing outside the system

playing outside the system in hockey

(credit: Sportingnews.com)

Systems are meant to be followed.

If your coach has you running through a specific breakout, fore-check or other set play day during weekly practices, there’s a good reason for it.

Don’t be the player that decides to forget about everything learned during the week as soon as the puck drops in a real game.

When it comes to systems, all it takes is one guy to be doing the wrong thing for it to become virtually useless.

If you can’t stick to your coach’s chosen system in all 3 zones, he just won’t be able to trust you in important situations.

To earn more ice-time and stay on your coach’s good side, make sure you know your team’s systems inside and out for each possible game scenario and play within their boundaries—that’s the most important part!

5. Not managing the puck well

turnover in hockey

(credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Last but not least, coaches HATE when a player doesn’t manage the puck well.

You can have hands like Patrick Kane or a shot like Shea Weber, but if you constantly create turnovers, you’re a threat to the success of your team. In fact, you may even give your coach no other choice but to keep you off the ice in clutch situations.

The most dangerous places for turnovers are near both blue lines, so you’ll want to make sure you’re extra careful when you have the puck  in those areas. Sometimes, it’s better to just chip the puck in or out of the zone and then recover it than to try a risky move around a defender.


It’s not only what you do, but also what you DON’T do that determines your worth as a hockey player.

By staying away from these 5 things, you’ll put the odds in your favor and show your coach that you’re a player he can trust in clutch moments.

Coaches, what else do you hate seeing your players do? Leave a comment below because I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About the author

Ben Levesque

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Ben has been playing hockey for 20+ years and has learned a ton from playing with the world's best coaches & players. Among his accomplishments are a National Championship, a President's Cup, a Semi-Final finish at the Memorial Cup, several Queen's Cups and a helmet in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

6 Comments on “5 Things Hockey Coaches HATE Seeing Their Players Do (that you’re probably doing)”

  1. Srecko Zizakovic

    Ben, these points are true about each and every team sport. Universal things to avoid. Excellent Life Rules as well for after a kid’s playing days are over and they get into the working world.

  2. Ryan

    Keep the email coming I’m read all you send me I have my son read your Facebook page and we are working on his mental mind set would like to know if we got set up a hangout video call with you let me know if that is possible

    1. Ben Levesque

      Hey Ryan, thanks for the kind words 🙂 One on one help is not something I can offer at the moment, just due to lack of time. I’m currently working on a book and plan to have that finished up soon… maybe in the future I’ll look at providing one on one help if enough people are interested. Cheers!

  3. Pingback: A Simple Skating Tweak That Can Improve Your Effectiveness on the Ice - BuiltForHockey.com

  4. Pingback: 7 Things Coaches and Scouts Love (that you’re probably not doing) - HockeyClan.com

  5. fan

    next gen coaches should be as good with boys and girls and should do meeting to really know what to expect about each other.

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