Hockey Talk

Attitude & Instincts

Shannon Miller, ice hockey, coaching

Shannon Miller calls on her instincts to make her a successful coach and explains how to navigate the many human aspects and dynamics that influence the job of being a successful coach

Hockey Talk, presented by Shannon Miller, is sponsored by Instat

Podcast length: 14′ 32″

On this week’s episode Coach Shannon Miller talks us through the known and unknown aspects of coaching, the challenges of balancing the personalities and bringing out the best of available talent. Our coaches and our parents pushed many of us growing up and playing sports – we weren’t allowed to float through the comfort zone receiving coddling and bouquets of flowers for compliments. Many today have not been made to feel uncomfortable; they’ve not been pushed by their parents, and possibly not by earlier coaches. There is a softness that exists where toughness used to reside.  She also explains the need to follow your instincts and stick by the principles to be your guiding light.


The Drill of the Week is on Shannon’s Facebook page @coachshannonmiller 

Shannon’s website

Shannon on Twitter  |  Instagram

LISTEN TO MORE EPISODES HERE or look for the HOCKEY TALK logo on WiSP Sports wherever you listen to podcasts.


Shannon’s Notes:

Wilma Rudolph – Former Track & Field Sprinter & 3x Olympic Gold Medalist

  • Wilma earned the honor of being called the “fastest woman on the planet”
  • and that’s amazing – but what’s more amazing

– Wilma had polio as a child.

“The doctor told me I would never run. My mother told me I would.

I chose to believe my mother.”

We choose our own thoughts. We choose our own attitudes.

Funny Fact –

Whenever I have a problem I sing, and then I realize that my voice is a lot worse than my problem

Our thoughts are rarely neutral – they are either positive or negative.

And what matters is what YOU think.

Don’t worry about what others think – don’t be hungry or desperate for others to approve – sometimes others tell us stories about ourselves that are fiction and they limit our abilities and beliefs – if you listen to these stories and worry about what others think, you will live as a “limited self” – do not give that kind of power away. Only let others inspire you, not limit you.

Did you know that having negative thoughts is like “bleeding from within.” ?

  • to speak ill, to think ill and to act ill is how we damage our potential
  • *Maya Angelou called this “Sinkin Thinkin” – poison.

– to speak truthfully, powerfully and with purpose is how we develop our potential

– your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts…as it listens, it learns

– as it learns, it does

Coaches, if we can take the approach of the “KNOWN – UNKOWN –UNKNOWABLE” – and what this means is that what we “know” is a limited amount” – the “unknown” is greater than the known – and the unknowable is even greater.

If we can all – coaches, athletes and administrators –  be humble enough to know that what we don’t know is far greater than what we do know, then we’ll be off to a great start.

I encourage all coaches to be interested in what you don’t know. Be interested in someone that has a different opinion than you, someone that is different than you. Simply be open.

Our human potential is limitless and expanding our human potential is intimately linked with expanding our minds

One resource available to us that stands above all others – is our mind!

Our brain is an amazing 3 pound universe.

Our brain not only interprets the world, it creates it.

We cam take anything and spin it positively or negatively.

We can be a troublemaker or a problem solver.

We MUST problem solve. We must do things the right way and expect our teammates to do things the right way. We must take care of each other AND the team by minimizing negative messages and maximizing those that are positive – positive energy creates a strong rhythm for a team.

I communicate with coaches, players and administrators from many different countries. In the last few years, I find two similarities in almost every coach I have talked to – first, the coaches are genuinely nice people and have good intentions on bringing out the best in their players. The second similarity is the lack of openness to coaching/feedback the athletes seem to be.

We talk about many issues – both positive and negative – the most resounding issue being raised is how to manage the players that are not playing, and the problems that they cause within the team. The players not receiving a lot of playing time, have become problem players and are eating up a lot of the coaches time. Coaches feel they are not able to focus as much attention on preparing practice plans, doing video, scouting opponents and working on special teams. 

THE TALENT TRAP: Picture this in your mind, or draw this on a piece of paper:

Our coaches and our parents pushed many of us growing up and playing sports – we weren’t allowed to float through the comfort zone receiving coddling and bouquets of flowers for compliments. Many today, have not been made to feel uncomfortable; they’ve not been pushed by their parents, and possibly not by earlier coaches. There is a softness that exists where toughness used to reside.

The question is – do you want to just play the game or do you want to win the game?

The journey is a constant strategic grind of learning. It’s an ever-passionate, ever-productive relationship with creativity that inspires and changes you. The journey is full of “aha moments” and moments of “what the hell?”

Many forfeit the hard work of the process – they don’t hang in there because it’s too tough – it takes them out of their comfort zone and they don’t like it. But if people hang in there, and commit to the process, trust in the process, the process precedes the accomplishment. The more you desire, the higher the goal, the more process is required. We must also be prepared to cut away the things that are not beneficial to the progress of the greater good. It is a difficult thing to do, but hanging on to situations, behaviors, and people that are blocking progress, blocking the greater good, will also block you from reaching your Destiny!

Life in the comfort zone requires no challenge, no guts, and no determination. Everyone who lives in the comfort zone are expected to speak like others speak, do what others do, not do what others don’t do. They choke creativity to what they can understand. The comfort zone looks easy going BUT it’s tense and controlling. Residents in the comfort zone demand total allegiance. You can’t live among them and dare to be different. People can love you, but then turn on you quickly because they realize you are going to a place they can’t go. You’ll be punished for trying to live among them while they perceive you are simultaneously betraying them with your new ideas and originality.

Many of us are familiar with the saying,  “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

Coaches – unless you’re unbelievably fortunate, you will have players on your team that gossip about other teammates or staff – they will use negative talk as their form of entertainment – like it somehow makes them feel better about themselves. Do the best you can to push aside the pettiness in pursuit of greatness. Pettiness and greatness cannot occupy the same space. The difficulty with trying to achieve this at times, is that you may only have them for short periods of time, and they may have a lifetime of living this way. All we can do is our best to create positive change. Greatness runs deep while pettiness runs shallow.

Constant lying and confusing messages create a non-supportive environment. This  fear based environment is not good for anybody.

There’s a great saying for people like this – “You can win the rat race, but your still at rat!”

Sabotage by other is real – it happens. But those people are rats.

In this highly competitive world that we live in today, doing what is simply required will never produce exceptional results. When we combine instinct and intellect we excel past the ordinary, accepted practices of the past and create new treasures.

Instincts are our inner compass and inherent for our survival. Trailblazing people move by instinct, because what they envision from within is not outwardly available to them.

Instincts are KING – We have been equipped with an animalistic instinct as part of our survival mechanism.

Instincts are key in the wilderness – When a mother eagle senses instinctively that her eagles are now ready to fly, she disrupts the nest with her beak, pushing them to edge and forcing them to fly. The mother eagle is pushing them to the uncomfortable place of discovery – and they find their wings and learn how to fly.  The mother eagle even goes so far as to disrupt their nest so they cannot return to their comfort zone.

When you step into a new jungle, you can be so focused on the opportunity that exists, you become blinded to the potential dangers. You are an outsider, with a different scent and you have changed the balance in the backyard.

NO amount of kindness can alter the fact that the other animals in your new world feel threatened by your arrival. It is easy to end up on the menu of some overaggressive, attention-starved, attack-prone coyote who comes out only at night. No matter the smiles and the pleasant conversations, every jungle has its predators.

SIDE BAR –  A quote from Maya Angelou: I’m a woman phenomenally; phenomenal woman, that’s me!

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