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3 Common Mistakes Made by Young Hockey Parents

11/16/2015, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

You know that feeling when you’re watching your son or daughter play hockey, and you can see into the future as you begin to unleash a tirade of language on the young referee so coated with rage you need to cup your hand over your mouth to prevent the evil from escaping?

Don’t pretend it hasn’t happened to you. And it’s not always the referee - you’ve caught yourself hurling venom at the coach, the other players, your son or daughter - to give into this urge would be a mistake. A mistake you’d regret.

Why would you regret it? Because not only would you be embarrassed once the heat of the moment wears off, you would’t actually accomplish anything.

Here are four more mistakes new hockey parents make (or almost make).

1. Judge, Jury, Executioner

As with everything I write, I’m doing so from a coach’s perspective. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know what it’s like to watch my son or daughter screw up. I don’t know how I’d react. 

What I do know, however, is how to spot a player who’s getting pressure from home. There’s nothing wrong with holding your children accountable, but no athlete should be more worried about the message they receive from Dad than they are about the message received from the coach. 

2. Worrying About Positions

In the new age of statistical analysis in hockey, where shot-share and scoring chance zones breathe new life into how we measure the game, most parents still see nothing more than their own child. It’s perfectly understandable, it’s your kid, after all. As a result, many parents get stuck in the “saw-him-good” zone, meaning they’ve seen their child at their best, and it happened while playing a certain position, so now that’s their position for life. 

Peewee hockey and up requires a positional dedication, but even then it’s only forward vs defense. I’ve heard stories of stressed out parents worried about their 8 year-old playing left wing instead of centre, and then claiming they just want what’s best for the team. Why, I’ve had a player for two years who came to the Giants as a centreman and flopped between centre and right wing every game last year. This past weekend he played left wing for the first time in his life and it’s the best I’ve ever seen him play. 

Young players should be playing all positions, forward and defense. Maybe they don’t need to strap the pads on though, for that’s a position I’m certainly not qualified to write about. 

3. Talking Upstairs

Everyone can hear everything you’re saying when you’re in the crowd, good or bad. And when you say something nice to someone, only to turn around and change your tune? Well, someone hears that, too. 

The problem with watching youth hockey from behind the glass with a beer in hand is that the player are transformed from a minor hockey team rounded out by passionate young kids who love playing the game into a collection of faceless robots without feelings. Some parents complain about how other kids are playing like they’re sitting on their couch watching the Edmonton Oilers give up a goal with 7 seconds remaining in the 3rd period to lose to hated rival Calgary Flames. 

They’re kids!

Everyone has an opinion and they ain’t afraid to use it. Well, what makes these parents right?

There are kids behind those cages trying their best, and if they had it all figured out, they’d be playing in the NHL already. Every single hockey player in the world is flawed, (even Connor McDavid has to shoot the puck an extra two inches further over the goal line than everyone else) and until we start replacing our kids with robots, we’d best accept it and root for what we do have instead of what we don’t. 

Fuelling the Fire

Of course, these three mistakes aren’t made by all hockey parents, all the time. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through hockey. We’re all connected by our mutual love for the frozen game, and even the most level-headed among us make mistakes from time to time.

But, paying attention to the chaos is what lends it its fuel. Like a cramped elementary school cafeteria in the middle of winter, if we treat everything as white noise and go to our happy place, eventually the din will ease and wear off.

Or we just won’t notice it any more. 


photo credit: Giant Canadian Flag via photopin (license)

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