Coehoorn's Corner: Teams a much different beast

COURTESY: Medicine Hat News

We are honoured to be a part of the Southeast Athletic Club this year. SEAC is a rep hockey organization based in Medicine Hat. They house three teams, which includes bantam AAA, midget 15’s AAA, and midget AAA.

SEAC has acquired our services this year to provide their sport science services. These services include weekly team strength and conditioning sessions, monthly mental skills sessions, and periodic sport nutrition sessions. It has been an absolute blast so far!

The Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast started the team athlete enhancement program one year ago. We felt there was a need in southeast Alberta for more team training. Last year we worked with six teams, and more this year.

One of the greatest things about working with teams is the feeling of comraderie with the rest of the team and organization. As an organization, we get excited about the wins and disappointed about the losses in the same way that the rest of the team and staff feel.

When we started the team program one year ago, we knew that there would be difficulties and that there would be some learning to do on our end. Up until one year ago, we worked mostly with individual athletes. Anyone who has coached or trained both teams and individuals knows that there is a stark difference between the two.

When coaching a team a standard needs to be developed for the team. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. I have seen it happen in many instances where there will be one player on the team that does not want to conform to the team’s mission and the wheels fall off.

One thing that we as an organization try to establish right from the get-go is the expectations that we have of the team. We expect every single repetition to be finished and to be done with the maximum effort possible. So when the team is performing their warm-up for one of our strength and conditioning sessions, we expect them not be walking unless they are told to do so.

Without fail, each team, when we are going through the growing pains of establishing these standards, will have some mental breakdowns, and one player will not finish a repetition. We enforce a punishment of sorts in order to maintain the standard that we expect.

What is interesting is that, in the first few workouts with a team, the other teammates will verbally attack the athlete that made the mistake. This changes over time though. After a while the athlete that messes up will own up to their mistake, and the rest of the team will come together and encourage each other.

This is extremely important because we all know that teams don’t win or lose on an individual’s efforts or mental breakdowns. Once a team gets to the point where they rally together in every aspect of their training, practice and competition, they stand a fighting chance to win. We are seeing this with the Southeast midget AAA Tigers. They are really coming together as a team, and they are working so hard as a team to have success.

Cory Coehoorn is the coordinator of the Alberta Sport Development Centre — Southeast. He is passionate about emerging athlete development and would love to hear from you! He can be reached via phone at 403-977-2124 and via email at