Finding Your Team Identity and Getting Total Buy In
By: Dan Arel
When our rink was given the go-ahead to open up for training amidst the COVID-19 pandemic we were not able to have fully functional team practices for some time and were not allowed to plan games. This made finding our teams strengths and weaknesses difficult, but also made it near impossible to find our teams identity.
Thankfully, after months of dragging kids through endless practices, we got the chance to travel out of state and compete in a hockey tournament. An exciting adventure for players who just wanted to play some games, but also for coaches who would have a chance to see everything we have been working on for months on end, come to fruition. Our team is full of players with potential to be those overtime heroes, the kids who can take a puck end-to-end and do all the work themselves. Yet, this is the furthest thing we instilled in them, we coached teamwork, and a full ice passing game, but would it work?
I am happy to write that it did, we went 5 and 0 in the tournament and I watched a team identity form on its own. Those individual heroes I mentioned, racked up just as many, if not more assists than they did goals. And as I went back and watched video, I thought to myself, “wow, this team is fast!” From there, I found our identity through the rest of our play.
F: We won nearly every single puck race. If we didn’t have the puck, we went and got it. We were first to the puck.
A: We were aggressive on the puck carrier if we didn’t have possession. Our opponent couldn’t take a stride without facing a defending player using their stick and body to separate the player and regain possession.
S: We were just smothering. In every zone, just like our aggressiveness we didn’t give our opponents room to breathe. If they made it into our zone, we didn’t allow them chances to shoot, we eliminated those scoring chances. In the offensive zone, we overwhelmed their defense and their goalie.
T: In the end, it was teamwork that won the game. It was never about individual effort. Our defenders didn’t let pucks out of the offensive zone, our forwards found open ice and utilized it, and no one was taking needless shots if they had a better passing option.
So, there it was, F.A.S.T.
First to the puck.
I had a banner that read “Who We Are” printed with the FAST mantra printed below it to hang up in our locker room, and I debuted it when we were able to partake in a scrimmage against another club, and the players loved it, they identified with it, and they went out in that scrimmage and lived it.