5 Things a Hockey Parent Should Never Do

Even if your kids have been a part of athletic teams or clubs before, there is nothing that can prepare you for the unique rigors and commitments of a hockey season. Our son started his hockey journey with once-a-week, learn-to-play sessions on the weekends. When he moved up to his first team, my husband and I found ourselves in the first parents’ meeting feeling like we had landed on an alien planet.  

Wake up at what time? Be there a whole hour early? Wait, how much does ice time for the year cost? What do you mean, “Work the penalty box?”  

We quickly came to realize that hockey season meant giving up most of our free time and more resources than we realized. Somehow, we enjoyed every second of it.  

It’s a steep learning curve. Even if you’re not a total newbie to the game, we have five things a hockey parent should never do.


1. Don’t Measure Growth by Wins and Losses.  

“Instead, measure growth by whether your kid still wants to put in the work,” said Kathy Griswold, Long Island hockey mom and head coach for Town of Oyster Bay’s hockey program. 

If the motivation isn’t there and you have to drag your kid to the rink, assess why. 

“Something has to change,” Griswold said. “Is it the organization? Is it the team? Or does your kid just need a break? Not every team or organization is for everyone. Go where you and your child are valued.”


2. Never Car Coach.  

It’s what Griswold affectionately refers to as the fourth period. The advice parents share doesn’t always align with a coach’s job to make all the pieces of a team fit. 

But what if you can’t resist? 

“Then ask them to tell you what they saw during different decision points during the game,” Griswold said. “Do more listening than talking. The goal is to have an intrinsically motivated player able to assess their own performance and identify which areas they can improve.”  


3. Don’t Forget This is Supposed to be Fun.  

Hockey mom Meg Marcella put this on her list. She understands how easy it is to get swept up in a competitive environment and forget how game outcomes are less important to kids than participating and having fun. In 10 years, will your 8-year-old remember the certificate or team trophy they won at the 8U invitational? Winning isn’t important when you’re 8 years old. 


4. Don’t Focus on What Your Child Did Wrong.  

Focus on what they did right. Roswell, Ga., hockey mom Kate Lowd Shaw contributed this nugget, sharing that she and her son always discuss the three things he did great and one thing he needs to work on. They all come from him. 


5. Don’t Be THAT Hockey Parent

Bite your tongue before you hurl insults and obscenities during a heated game, berate the refs or yell at your kid in front of everyone in the stands. Avoid the mob mentality and learn the value of restraint. You’re the chief role model for your kids and they look to you for guidance and support. P



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