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8 tips for hockey parents to ensure an enjoyable season for you and your child

Hockey Parents Tips

This one’s for you, hockey parents! Being a hockey mom or dad can be one of the hardest jobs around — early mornings, late nights, team fees, equipment costs, endless miles on the family vehicle, weekends full of hockey, cold rinks, meal prep, planning, sacrificing… the list goes on, but seeing that smile on your daughter’s face, that’s when you’re reminded of why you do it.

We’re here to thank you for all that you do (and all that you miss out on because of hockey) and give you some important tips from our WHL Ambassadors and WHL Community members to help get you through another season (or your first) as hockey parents:

BE MINDFUL OF YOUR ACTIONS AND WORDS

“Keeping it in perspective: how you act around your children and the attitude that you bring to the rink will be what your child remembers, not whether they beat that team from Halifax, Fresno or Boston. Games are memorable yes, but your actions as a parent teach your children about life. Don’t treat your child’s game as you would the game of a pro team that that you support.

I have spent years coaching youth sports and it is a struggle to not “coach” my kids when my job is to be a parent. When that is my job I try to keep my comments to the following: How do you feel about your game? Did you have fun? What did you do well? What do you feel that you can improve on and what did you learn? If my kid wants to volunteer more information or ask questions it is an open door, but as a parent, I stay away from interjecting or offering my opinion on the refs, the other players or the coaches. All of their jobs are difficult enough without my input. The only other advice I would give is this: Always be your child’s advocate.” – Daniel Brown

“Remember that it’s about having fun and developing a love and skill for the game. I always leave my kid at the rink with ‘I love you, skate hard and have fun’ — they are kids!” – Nikki Neil-Bogren

“Remember they are just kids, not pros. Cut them some slack!” – Elizabeth Perry

“If you are a parent who has never played hockey, it is unlike anything else. Skating and handling an object on ice is immensely difficult. Be patient with your kids. It takes a lot of time and repetition!” – Marcie Warner

Be kind. It’s only a game. Look for growth and point it out. No need for a post game autopsy! Most importantly: enjoy the time with you kid(s).” – Katya RK

“As a hockey parent, hockey coach and lifelong hockey player: your child’s hockey experience is not about your wants, needs and desires. Understand there will be ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and learning for both of you within it all. Separate what is your baggage from what is theirs to figure out — do not make your stuff their responsibility as there will be things triggered in you as you move through the seasons, that’s a given. However, do not turn a blind eye to the situations that are not okay, such as bullying or toxic politics and unsafe environments, as you may need to be your child’s advocate in some situations.” – Linda Jane

LET THE COACHES AND REFEREES DO THEIR JOB

“Remember your job ends when you drop them at the rink. Don’t try and coach them from the stands. Let the coaches coach and just be supportive of their effort.” – Amy Eisenhauer Craig

“It is good to know that the referees watch the game from a different angle and will see things differently than you. Also keep in mind that your kids are watching and listening to you, if you disrespect the referees and coaches, you are teaching your kids that it is ok to disrespect authority figures.” – Joe Cummings

OFFER SOLUTIONS, NOT CRITICISM

“Most coaches/coaching staff and league administration are volunteers. It’s easy to criticize from the sidelines but much more effective to become a volunteer and help improve the situation that you see needs fixing. Offer solutions instead of just criticism… most people have their hearts in the right spot and would welcome the advice and/or extra help.

Let your kid(s) have fun, and have fun with them by cheering from the stands.” – Elissa Plastino

“If you have a strong opinion about plays on the ice, volunteer to referee. If you have a problem with coaching, volunteer to coach.” – Daniel Brown

CHECK IN WITH YOUR KID(S)

Check in on a regular basis to be sure they’re happy and having fun. It’s easy to get caught up in a never ending schedule of practices and games and forget they’re kids who might feel after awhile an obligation (not a desire) to play.” – Robin Sankowski Grenier

“Make sure they still get to have fun and do some other activities with family and friends.” – Elizabeth Perry

GET TO KNOW THE OTHER PARENTS

“Get to know your kids’ teammates’ parents. It makes the season more enjoyable if you are a united parent unit.” – Cassandra Krenz

Carpool with other parents or grandparents.” – Jennifer Doyle

“Remember to cheer for other people’s kids, we teach sportsmanship from the sidelines too.” – Sara Phelan

EQUIPMENT

Don’t get hung up on the best sticks, skates, and equipment. When your kids are just starting out they don’t need that 200 dollar stick or those 500 dollar skates. Get good equipment that fits right and is protective. Get good skates that are properly fitted — don’t get them a couple of sizes too big thinking they can grow into them. They won’t be able to skate properly on too big skates. Never buy a used helmet, though. Their noggin is much too valuable. Other things like pads, gloves and pants can usually be found rather inexpensively new or even gently used.” – Ariel Enhaynes

HOW TO APPROACH COACHES

From a coaching perspective: If you’re unhappy with something (ie: your child’s ice time, special teams, locker room issues, etc.), wait 24 hours to cool off and then ask about it. Don’t demand that your child receive more ice time, play a different position, or whatever it may be without knowing the reason. Likewise, maintain respectful communication with your child’s coach. I’ve seen good players get cut from teams because the head coach doesn’t want to deal with their parents. Also, do your best to ensure that your child adheres to team rules (ie: no swimming before games at the hotel, in room by curfew, attendance at team meetings).

From a player perspective: don’t be that over-involved parent shouting from the bleachers. It can be embarrassing for your child and make them less enthusiastic about the game. It can also lead to confusion if what you’re yelling contradicts what their coaches are teaching them.” – Maggie Benson

PRACTICAL TIPS

Meal prep. Having proper meals when playing hockey is very important, but between work, school, and hockey it can be hard to have the time to prepare good, nutritional meals. So if you can pre-make meals and have them ready to throw in the oven or microwave it can make a huge difference and save you time.” – Laura Mark

Prep the week in advance… homework, food and where games and practices are so there are no surprises.” – Corbett Rowcliffe

“Stop yelling, ‘MOVE YOUR FEET'” – Cassi Weiss

“Make the rides home pleasant. Be their best supporter, fan and their soft place to fall. In the grand scheme of things, hockey is JUST a game and the purpose of ‘play’ (biologically) is stress reduction and connection with self and others. Balanced body, mind and spirit.” – Linda Jane

“1) Get a good night’s rest

2) Either wake up early to make sure you have everything packed or do it the night before

3) Pack extra jackets or blankets just in case

4) Pack snacks

5) Have a nice hot coffee with you at all times

6) Enjoy the game” – Alex Chen

“1) Breathe

2) Pros make mistakes, kids will definitely make them

3) Even if your child says they checked for all of their gear, check it anyways

4) Ignore the negative talk from other parents (both on your team and the opposing team). It’s best to just move away from all of that

5) Stay out of any gossip

6) Always do what’s best for your child

7) Counter any criticisms with positive reinforcements

8) Just enjoy it…especially during their younger years” – Carl Barretto

 


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