Modern sports are as much about psychology as sporting ability. All of the athletes that make it to the top of their game do so because they have both ability and the self-motivation to get there.
Being a good coach involves understanding your athletes and working alongside each individual to push them to their maximum performance. As an example of coaching for hockey, see the Great Britain coaching club program at http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=955.
Expect your team to be prepared. Athletes need to be physically fit barring any specific health issues. All athletes are not made equal, and some may need more input than others. It is important to know, observe and understand your athletes and to determine what works for each individual.
Encouragement is always better than criticism; however, at times, criticism may be needed. If so, this should be implemented in a timely fashion as soon as possible after the unsuccessful event has occurred. Compassion is required, and the use of it will vary depending on the character of the individual athlete. Once the point has been made, you should move on.
Believe in your athletes and your team, and expect nothing but the best from them.
A team is only as strong as its weakest member. Often, the stars of the team will look after themselves. It is the less talented that will need most of your coaching time to help them improve and lift the level of their game. They require strong, consistent leadership.
Always set clear goals for your athletes and let them know when they have met with these targets. Achievement – even of small goals – is a good motivator.
Most importantly, you need to have a carefully considered training plan that is full of variation to keep your athletes engaged in the process of training even when they may not feel like they are in full form. In hockey, for example, field hockey drills are essential to training but can become mundane and boring if there isn’t regular variation. Excellent drills are available from several online training sites, such as http://www.sportplan.net/.
The right training plan will reap rewards by keeping your athletes or teams engaged in their work and focusing their minds on achievable goals that they can meet on their way to athletic excellence.