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Coaches

Creating a Positive Parent-Coach Relationship

By Michael Dundas, Manager, Hockey Development, 02/26/20, 11:00AM EST

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Parents, coaches and players are all in it together


Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography

As parents we all want to have a positive impact on our children’s hockey experience. Unfortunately, the stories of negative fan behaviour can overshadow all of the great and supportive parents that attend every game. Sitting in the stands gives you a first-hand look at the development taking place thanks to the dedication and hard work of the coaching staff.
 
That being said, everyone has to remember that parents, coaches and players are all in it together. Establishing a positive relationship throughout the season will make the season even more enjoyable while maximizing the development of the players.
 
Parents and coaches should work together, not against each other. Both parties play a crucial role in a child’s development and need to put the player first for this to happen.


Photo Credit: Heather Pollock Photography

Developing a positive relationship with the coach doesn’t have to be difficult. Don’t be afraid to offer your help and get involved. Ask if there is anything you can assist with such as planning, carpooling or fundraising. Work with the team manager on the off-ice activities to alleviate that stress from the coaches. This of course should be done out of the spirit of volunteerism and not out of expecting any favourable treatment for your child on the ice.
 
Before the season starts a coach usually establishes a set of rules and expectations for both the parents and players. These should be in an accessible place throughout the year that can be easily referenced and include the channels of how coaches and parents can communicate with each other. If everyone is on the same page and this remains consistent then both parties can feel comfortable reaching out to one another. What becomes most important is letting the coaches do their job – getting contradictory instructions from mom or dad puts the child in an awkward position of deciding who to listen to.

Coaches want what is best for the player they should be open to providing feedback when necessary. Parents can ask the coaches if there is anything they can do to help their child become a better player. As players grow older they can take on this responsibility for themselves. It is up to them to decide how much work and practice they want to put in to their own development.


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A healthy habit to build is the ‘24-hour rule’, giving players, parents and coaches enough time to cool down after an intense game before commenting. On the car ride home from the rink, a simple question meant to encourage your own child can be interpreted as an outburst on a coach, teammate or the player’s own performance. If a problem persists after this time period then parents and coaches will have had time to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Then they can have a discussion.

Navigating the parent-coach relationship doesn’t need to be a tightrope. Putting the player first by being honest and open with communication can keep everyone happy. Everyone needs to remember why they are at the rink – to ensure a positive minor hockey experience for all the kids involved.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Dundas is the Manager, Hockey Development at the OMHA and has over 10 years of instructional and coaching experience working with athletes from U7 to U18.

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