It's been a challenging last few months for families. With hockey and school now underway, a sense of normalcy has hopefully started to return to most households. As we spend more time within our bubbles we see first hand the impact our influence has on our young kids.
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 tips for parents to keep in mind to make a positive impact on young players:
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.
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.
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. As this year will have a higher emphasis on skill development everyone needs to remember that it may take some kids more tries to figure out new skills.
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. While each rink may have different rules for who can watch games, parents 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.
With new safety protocols in place, it's important to check with your local facility on how early you can arrive at the rink. 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.
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.
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Isn't it great to just be back at the rink? 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.
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.
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.