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How Coaches and Parents Can Work Together

By Dan Pollard, 11/21/19, 1:00PM EST


Clear line of communication needed from both sides

Photo Credit: Nelson Carreiro Photography

There are so many factors in getting someone on the ice. It takes a commitment from players, coaches and administrators to be willing to dedicate the time and effort necessary to ensure everyone has a positive experience. However, none of that is possible without the most key decision maker – the parents. They impact the choice of registration, making sure their kids get to the rink, and have a voice in all of the major decisions. Parents want to know if their kids are going to be safe and have fun while learning new skills in our great sport.

Aaron Wilbur, founder of The Coaches Site, believes that coaches need to think about the parent group when creating their plan for the year. It’s about having transparency when building their practices, lesson plans and schedules.

“The attitude and culture around your team is probably going to be driven more by the parents than it is by the coach. Ensuring that there’s alignment between all the adults involved is imperative,” said Wilbur.

A parent’s involvement in hockey goes hand in hand with the team. They need to be on board with the transportation, team fees and schedule. That’s why being clear and open in your communication is so important. On the other side, parents need to understand the boundaries when it comes to what is happening on the ice.

“You realize that we all have parent goggles on. That’s just a fact of life. We all want what’s best for our kids. Hopefully within that, there’s a line that we can draw as parents where we can say, 'this is a team sport, we need to do what’s best for the team.' We accept there’s going to be adversity for our child and that can be a healthy experience. As coaches, we have to recognize that parents are inherently going to put the best interests of their child first and we’ve got to work with them in setting what those boundaries are.”

Keeping that clear line of communication is the main key. Both parties need to be open to listening to what the other side may have concerns about.

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“I think that transparency is really important. I think for the most part, parents understand what they’re getting into, especially when you get into the more competitive levels of minor hockey. I just think it’s imperative that you provide that transparency, you get as detailed as possible. I think a lot of the times when parents raise concerns, it’s really just a product of not knowing.”

There are ways for parents to stay involved and help out with the team throughout the year. Being active in the parent group can mean helping to organize team dinners, manage fundraising efforts and coordinate tournament planning. It’s a team within the team.
“When there’s an issue, are people going to run away or run together? Just asking parents for that sort of commitment. When things go south and there’s a bad decision, we can talk about it. What we don’t want is for there to be a small mutiny every time we’re not happy with the results.”

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Dan Pollard is the host of Breakaway, The Minor Hockey Podcast. His passion for hockey led him to volunteer as a coach and administrator while his professional career has allowed him to cover the game at various levels with CBC, Sportsnet, the NHL Network and TSN. You can currently hear Dan every morning on 105.5 Hits FM in Uxbridge.

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