Don Lucia, coach of the University of Minnesota's men's hockey team talking about parents and coaches in youth hockey.
Reprinted from the Eveleth Hockey Association Website - Eveleth, Minnesota.
Parents, did you know that there were 35,324 boys and 8,361 girls registered to play youth hockey in Minnesota last season? Did you know that there were about 6,200 boys and 3,900 girls playing high school hockey? Did you know that there were about 250 Minnesota boys and about 95 Minnesota girls on D1 college hockey rosters? Did you know there were 20 Minnesota born players in the NHL and that the first professional women's team in Minnesota began only this year?
The chances of your son or daughter getting a D1 college scholarship is minute. The chances of your son or daughter playing professional hockey are miniscule.
While children can and should have dreams they, and you, should understand the long odds that exist. They, and you, should also understand the hours and years of hard work involved beyond scheduled practices and games in order to make those dreams come true. Hockey should be fun for kids, not work! After all, it is a game.
Additional "USA Hockey" & "Hockey Canada" public service announcement - "Relax, It's Just a Game" videos
Some parents not only spoil the fun for their kids at the ice rink, but also in the car, believing this is the perfect place for instruction. Parents should try to keep things in perspective. There’s more to life than hockey, and the car and home are not places to coach. Parents are responsible for supporting and respecting the coach’s decisions and abilities. It is unfair to put children in a position of having to decide who to listen to — their parents or their coach.
Parents should remember that if a child wants to improve, he/she has to practice — not just play. Even if a child is not the “star” player for a team, practice stresses the importance of teamwork, establishing goals, discipline and learning to control your emotions, all of which are important lessons children can use both in and away from sports.
The USA Hockey Initiation Program has been developed to make certain that a child’s first experience with hockey is positive, safe and fun. Parents should avoid pressuring or placing unreasonable expectations on their children, particularly at the Initiation Program level. No matter what happens on the ice, children need your support, so always strive to be positive.
In 1996-97, USA Hockey introduced a national safety and awareness campaign called Heads Up Hockey. Designed to promote a safer, smarter, better style of play, Heads Up Hockey introduces concepts and techniques that will enhance your child’s enjoyment of youth hockey. For more information on the Heads Up Hockey program, contact your coach or league administrator or log on to www.usahockey.com.
The degree to which your child benefits from his or her youth hockey experience is as much your responsibility as it is theirs. In order for your child to get the most out of a youth hockey program, it is important for you to show support and offer encouragement while maintaining a genuine interest in the team.
Parents serve as role models for their children, who often look to adults for advice, direction and approval. Never lose sight of the fact that you are a role model and strive to be positive. As a parent, one of the most important things you can do is show good sportsmanship at all times to coaches, referees, opponents and teammates.
Remember that your children are PLAYING hockey. It is important to allow them to establish their own goals and play the game for themselves. Be careful not to impose your own standards or objectives.
Avoid placing an exaggerated emphasis on winning. The most important aspect of your child’s youth hockey experience is for them to have fun while developing physical and emotional skills that will serve them in life. A healthy, risk-free environment that emphasizes the importance of fair play, sportsmanship, teamwork and, most importantly, fun will be invaluable for your child as he or she continues to develop a positive self image.
The best way to help children achieve goals and reduce their natural fear of failure is through positive reinforcement. After all, no one feels good about making mistakes.
If your child does make a mistake — and they will (remember, they’re just kids) — keep in mind that mistakes are an important part of the overall learning process. Strive to be supportive and point out the things they do well. Make sure your child knows that, regardless of the outcome of a game, he or she is a winner.