If you are a hockey parent like me, your kid is getting ready for “conditioning camp”. A sure sign hockey season is around the corner, these programs give kids a chance to review hockey fundamentals and set themselves up for a successful season.
As hockey parents, I suggest we engage in our own “conditioning camp”. For me, it’s about reviewing three fundamentals that help me be a supportive and positive parent inside and outside the rink.
Fundamental #1: It’s about the kids. Really.
“It’s about the kids” is probably the most used (and misused) catchphrase in minor hockey. What it really means is that our focus should be on what kids want and what they expect from playing hockey.
When researchers ask kids why they play sports, two answers always top the list: to have fun and to improve their skills. Amazing but true: winning never makes the top 10.
For parents, that means as you watch your kids play hockey, remember why they are playing. If you feel unhappy because your kid’s team is losing or they won’t make the playoffs, you need to swallow your pride and check your emotions.
If your kid is not having fun or not developing skills, you can politely share your concerns with the coach, making sure you follow the procedure set out by your minor hockey association. But if the coaching and the program are sound, you need to stop worrying about the results. Your kids have.
Fundamental #2: Say the right things to your kids.
Not surprisingly, the two main reasons kids quit sport is because they are not having fun and they feel they don’t have the skills to succeed.
Another reason has to do with parents. Despite good intentions, many parents go too far when giving feedback on their kids’ performance. One of the most dreaded moments for many players is the car ride home when they have to hear about all the things they did wrong.
Leave the instruction to the coaches, and have your comments reflect your unconditional love and support. The most important six words you can ever say are: “I love to watch you play”. Memorize them.
Fundamental # 3: There’s a new normal in hockey.
The “new normal” describes the direction our national game is heading with Hockey Canada’s Long-Term Player Development (LTPD) pathway.
If you are a traditionalist, there’s no need to be alarmed. The fundamentals of skills, speed, and “compete” are still being developed. They are simply being developed a bit differently.
LTPD gets kids doing the right things at the right ages so they can have fun, love hockey, and become complete players. The first step is developing physical literacy, which begins by learning a wide variety of fundamental skills such as running, throwing, catching, and jumping. To develop these skills, from an early age our kids benefit from playing many different sports and activities, not just hockey.
Hockey parents, check your fitness now against these three fundamentals. We’ve got a long season in front of us.
Richard Monette leads Active for Life, a national initiative about physical literacy that targets parents who want to raise active and successful kids. Active for Life provides expert advice, inspirational tips, and activity ideas. For more, visit ActiveforLife.com.