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Making an Impact as a Hockey Parent

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 02/25/22, 11:00AM EST


10 tips to ensure your child has a positive experience

Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography

Parents can have a big impact on their young athletes. They have the best of intentions in mind and want to have their child succeed. Seeing their kids have fun on the ice and working hard developing new skills with teammates makes the cold hours in the rink and the car rides worth it. As the chief role model for their kids they are looked to for guidance and support. Creating an environment where children can learn and feel supported and safe is one of the first steps in building the confidence of a player.

Being a sports parent is an excellent way to see your child grow first-hand and share the positive experiences that hockey brings. Here are 10 tips for parents when getting involved in youth sports:

Understanding What Success Means

The hockey season is more than just wins and losses and success can be defined in both an individual and team aspect. A player can work their hardest on the ice and the team may still not be able to pull out a win. That new-look wrist shot? That child worked all off-season on having a more accurate shot. Understanding how we determine success is one of the first steps in helping players reach their goals. There are lessons to be learned from not always getting what you want.

Be a Role Model

What you say and how you act should be reflective of what you would expect from your child. As a role model, displaying positive behaviours will encourage the kids around you to do the same. Showing support and understanding goes a long way.

No Kid Develops in a Straight Line

It is not easy to master a new skill and there will be mistakes made along the way. Players want to become better but it takes time and repetition to feel comfortable learning something new. Kids develop at different stages and highlighting accomplishments, no matter big or small, can help instill confidence and make them continue to want to learn.

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The Car Ride Home Isn't an Interview

Let your kids express their thoughts on the game instead of telling them about how you think it went. There are positives to be seen from every situation. Even if your child may not have played well chances are they still had fun spending time with their friends. Expressing disappointment can add a negative connotation to hockey which could turn them away from the sport.

Teamwork in the Stands and on the Ice

Hockey is the ultimate team sport. Players need each other to be successful. Understanding what it means to be part of a team and being a good teammate helps everyone work towards achieving their goals. This goes for parents as well. The parents on the team spend a lot of time together in the stands watching their children play. They can provide support with encouragement and by cheering on their own team. Parents should avoid yelling at the other team or the referees.

Be on Time

Getting your child to the rink on time let’s everyone take a breath and not rush to get ready. It can help teach them time management and the importance of responsibility. Your team is counting on you to be at the rink. There can be elements that are out of your control but do your best to stay ahead of the game. Work with the other parents on the team to develop a carpool if needed.

Watch Games Together

Watching games together, whether in person or on television, is a great way continue to foster a love for the game. Parents can also head outside and play with their kids. Show them that you care about their participation and are excited to see how well they are doing. It keeps both of you active and engaged in the sport.

Knowing Your Role in the Bleachers

Children appreciate encouragement and enthusiasm from the stands. What they don’t need is another ‘coach’ yelling instructions from the bleachers. It puts players in an awkward position – do they listen to their coach on the ice or their parents? Let the coaches do the coaching. If you feel like you need to speak with the coach, do so in a private manner.

Be a Team Player

We encourage our kids to be supportive and encourage their teammates and we need to do the same. Cheering for all of the players shows your support for the whole team and will create a positive atmosphere amongst the parent group. Never speak poorly about other players on the team in front of your child – these are their friends. Avoid comparing teammates – everyone is working together as a group.

You Can Have Fun Too

The most important and obvious tip. Having fun isn't just limited to the players. Everyone should look forward to going to the rink every time. Minor hockey can provide some of the best memories of playing sports and be the foundation in creating lifelong friendships. Let them feel good about being physically active and competitive.

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