Tips for New Hockey Parents
Make sure you check TeamSnap well in advance to make sure you know which Arena you are heading to.
BE PATIENT AND REALISTIC
If parents are simply trying to introduce their kids to hockey, success should be measured in clearly defined stages, Frank said. Maybe the first trip to a rink is about simply trying it. Maybe the second time is about persevering if they fall down.
“As they fall in love with it more, asking you if they can come back, then you can start progressing the goals to more skill-based things,” said Frank. “Getting mad because kids don’t want to stay, or putting pressure on them because they’re lying down making snow angels on the ice, those are mistakes some parents make. Sometimes just letting go is important. Be patient and let kids enjoy it at their own pace.”
UNDERSTAND THAT HOCKEY IS NOT EASY
Chances are that a naturally coordinated young athlete can pick up a lot of land sports pretty quickly. On the ice, though? That’s another matter, and parents should be prepared.
“It’s important for the parents to understand that hockey requires a completely new and foreign form of locomotion,” Frank said. “Parents think if you can run and jump and throw you’re going to be OK, but if a kid has never skated before, it’s hard at first.”
It can be particularly difficult for a parent who has never played the game.
“If parents have no experience, they have no idea how hard it is,” Frank added. “They might wonder, ‘Why aren’t they going faster?’ They don’t grasp that it requires learning a whole new skill set. Other kids who are younger and smaller, even if they’ve been doing it for a couple months, can be so much further ahead.”
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
“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 (e.g.: 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 (e.g.: 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