Question: What do hockey parents and sheepdogs have in common?
Anyone who’s ever had to direct a
pack group of young children knows that it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page. Teaching cookie monsters can be tricky, but the real trick starts at home.
Getting your little guy or gal dressed is tough. Getting them onto the ice is tough.
The other day I saw a mom in the family change room at the North Shore Winter Club holding a toddler on one hip and holding the hand of her little cookie monster daughter while she rolled on the floor, swinging her stick and hollering at the top of her lungs.
After thoughts of getting an emergency vasectomy subsided, an idea for a new article came to life. This article. The one you’re reading.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for parents of cookie monsters. I complain about motivating my midget and peewee players, but at least they can stand on two feet and hold a coherent conversation.
Here’s a real conversation I had with a player this past weekend during a game.
“How are you feeling today?”
“Not great, I think I could be playing better.”
“Ok, I agree. Force the issue more, you need to be more aggressive and win races to the puck.”
The next game…
“Dude, how are you feeling today?”
“I feel awesome, I think I’m playing well.”
“I agree, great job buddy.”
Now here’s a conversation I overheard between a cookie monster and his dad the other day.
“How are you feeling today?”
“I’m actually a dinosaur, you know.”
“Ok, good talk.”
Coaching midget and peewee players is easy compared to coaching cookie monsters. The challenges at a young age can seem overwhelming, particularly when you can’t get a straight answer out of your kid.
So, we know there’s a language barrier. What can you do?
Well, succeeding in hockey and in life is largely dependant on your ability to communicate. It’s worked for me - the reason I’m a good coach is because I’ve learned (the hard way) how to communicate with my players.
Communication also landed me a sweet gig writing articles for this cool group of hockey, fitness and tennis people I know.
Anyways, it’s never too early to start teaching your little hockey players about communication. The best way to get them talking is to talk yourself. Talk to them about their experiences on the ice and tell them stories about when you played hockey (or other sports). Tell them what you like about the game. Talk about your favourite team, even if it is the mighty Edmonton Oilers.
Even if they don’t quite follow your line of thinking, getting them to open up about what’s going on in their minds is an important step that will have benefits as they get older.
Next week I’ll have another post with specific questions you can ask your cookie monster to get the hockey convo rolling. Until then, it’s just you and your little dinosaur.