Photo Credit: XGen Photography
Hockey is a sport that teaches more than passing the puck or where to be on the ice. From being a good teammate to learning about respect, hockey is just as much about what lessons are brought forward on the ice as being a better person when you’re not wearing skates. While parents aren’t involved with what happens during a game or practice, they can still help shape their child’s time playing hockey. Off the ice, there are many lessons to be taught that still tie into the hockey experience. Here’s what parents can do to help raise a young hockey player.
Putting the onus on the player to make sure everything is packed into their equipment bag and putting on their own gear gives them responsibility and independence. It also offers lessons in accountability if they forget to pack something. Get players to carry their own bags and sticks into the arena. Once timing is established, give the child the responsibility of making sure they are ready to leave for the rink using minimal reminders.
Let players do their best. They will know if they made a mistake. Don’t compare them to other players on the team or set unrealistic expectations. It can be a burden physically and emotionally and they can get distracted by not trying to disappoint you. Kids want to have fun with their friends and that's one of the main reasons they play sports.
A player should unpack their bag and equipment after a game or practice to reduce the buildup of bacteria and odours. Teach them how to do their own laundry and any other necessary cleanliness tasks that are involved with airing out the equipment. The next time they put on their equipment and it doesn’t smell bad they will thank you. Tip: Be sure to follow the instructions on how to properly clean each different piece of gear to maximize it's usage.
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Perhaps the most important but often overlooked aspect of minor hockey. Encourage your child to have a good time and enjoy themselves playing sports. Don’t try to coach them before or after a game, especially if it undermines what the coach is saying. Mixed messaging will confuse young players and put them in an awkward position by forcing them to pick a side.
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of an intense game. On the other hand, sometimes the score can get out of hand quickly. Don’t go over the top when celebrating a goal. Stay out of the other team’s face and focus on your own team’s accomplishments. Think about what it would be like if you were on the other side. This sportsmanship and respect can be carried into all areas of life and competition.
It’s great that your child wants to be physically active. Encourage them to practice their skills while at home. If they express an interest in playing another sport, don’t limit them to just hockey. Other sports can actually help players become more complete athletes and improve their hockey skills. They may also find a new passion.