In every walk of life you are going to meet different personalities, and have varying views on different things, but what I have found over the past 30 years of hockey is that hockey parents (sport parents of all kinds really) can be CRAZY! Soon as their player gets on the pitch, Ice, Hardwood they can turn into raging animals. Now I am far from the perfect Hockey parent, but I have learned some things along the way and want to share them with you in hopes that you don’t make going same mistake I have made.
Remember it is supposed to be fun
First thing first, Sports are supposed to be fun, lets face it the large majority of players are not going to make it big, just like we are not going to win the lottery this weekend (I will still buy my ticket though) with that understanding there is no need to push your player to brink of hating the sport that they love and have fun playing.
The Coaches are Volunteers
Most coaches you come across in your players minor hockey career will not be paid, they are volunteers doing it because they love the game. They are not perfect and will make mistakes, I know I have made many as a coach, I also know that it is really stressful. The first year I was a head coach for my sons Midget Select team, I was a mess before practices and games because I wanted everything to be perfect. Having the support of the parents was amazing and made for a much more enjoyable season for everyone.
Be a part of your players team, offer to be a manager, statistician, treasurer or anything else that they need help with, you may be surprised how much fun you have doing it!
Remember that Refs are not perfect
This is a huge one, referees are human and make mistakes, this is just part of hockey life. I don’t understand why some parents think that yelling at the ref is going to help at all? In fact as a coach I can tell you that it actually makes the situation worse. The only people that should be talking (note I did not say yelling) with the ref are the head coach and the teams captains. If you follow this the team will have a much better relationship with the refs, remember you see the refs over multiple games they are not always different.
Be Supportive not Disruptive
For most children especially younger ones, I truly believe that being supportive is the best way to help them develop, yelling or telling them that they are not good enough is not going to help and may make them turn away from the sport altogether. Now, “constructive criticism” I feel is important, but how you approach this criticism is the tricky part. I have 3 sports kids in my house and I have to treat them all differently, I can tell my daughter anything (she doesn’t really listen anyways 🙂 ) My older son typically gives feedback before I can say anything and my youngest is super sensitive and I need to sandwich the criticism with some positives before and after. You can read more on the “sandwich method” here.
Determine the Right amount and kind of Training
Kids need training to get better, no matter how good the talent they are born with is, there is always room to grow. There are different ways to go at this, you can purchase some stuff to do training at home, you can go get additional individual training from development programs that are in your area, you can even suggest training as a team to your coach, it is also good for team morale and relationship building to do training events together. One year we received a sponsorship from a local gym where every Wednesday night the boys went to the gym to ride the bike and do some muscle building.
To conclude there are many ways to be a good Hockey / Sport parent there are also many ways to be a crazy one! You know your child best and what they need to be pushed just the right amount. Don’t let the emotions take over and turn you into something you are not, remember SPORTS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!