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BenBreeg

Being a Hockey Parent

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I wanted to post some thoughts about being a hockey parent and see what others’ perspectives were.  My background is I played through high school then when I came back from college played some men’s league and started coaching high school and ACHA.  I eventually stopped playing and focused on coaching and then when I went to grad school and my kids were born wasn’t doing anything hockey-related.  My son is 7 now and started Learn to Play this past Feb, did a spring ADM, and over the summer we just do stick time every few weeks.  He is doing a camp this week, just an hour a day but the beauty is there are only 4 kids signed up and two coaches.  It is worth 5x the money I paid and the main coach is great with the kids.

I am also a huge proponent of kids playing multiple sports (and multiple activities in general, not even just sports) and specializing as late as possible.  I am basically a nerd and love reading up on the latest research on these topics as well.

Even given that I actively try to think this way, the reality is that you have to continually check yourself and be honest about how you are approaching your kids with regards to sports.  One of the best things I learned from the U8 USA Hockey module was that the average 8-year-old’s mental maturity is 8 +/- 4.5 years (or something very close)!  I see this in baseball especially.  I had one kid who was physically advanced, knew tons of situations, asked me why I had player X in the cleanup spot because he wasn’t a cleanup hitter, etc.  Then my son wouldn’t be paying attention to the batter and play in the dirt.

The crap I hear about from other parents is ridiculous.  I just heard about a parent berating his kid as he came off the ice because he didn’t play well.  This was 10U.  Other kids are leaving orgs because they need to play against better competition with the Pens Elite.  There is a summer full-ice U8 league.  Etc.

It is tempting to push your kid too hard, despite best intentions.  I kept asking my son if he wanted to go “practice his stickhandling” in the driveway.  Not a real strong response to that, as you could expect.  He was usually done in 5 minutes.  Then he made up a game where we had to walk around and stay on the lines between the individual concrete slabs, and could only pass after answering a math fact!  WTH?!?!?!  But I said ok and we played for like 15 minutes because he thought it was fun.  Now I just ask him if he wants to play a little hockey, or he asks me.  Perspective.

Kids are going to progress as individuals. Literally, in the two hours he has been on the ice the last two days he has made these huge strides that he didn't make all spring.  And I am learning a lot from watching this guy coach this age group (and stealing his drills/games!).  But it takes some discipline even for the best-intentioned and informed parents to not get caught up in this race to create mini-professionals.

Both when I am coaching and when I am talking to my son after he does something sports related, I make sure to mention fun first before asking about anything specific as far as the game or practice, and I have stopped even talking about anything he could have improved on.  There is plenty of time to work on that stuff later and in a better context.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

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I've talked to some former NHLers and some players who've gotten to the higher levels of pros, D1 college, and major junior levels.  I've also talked to pros in other sports, particularly tennis.  The one constant I've heard is that at some point in their development, a whole bunch of people started to take notice that they had the potential to play at the elite levels.  It's not a couple of people who are being complimentary or inflating egos...it's many people, and many times people that are not in your typical circle. (meaning press, agents, other organizations, etc)   The point I'm trying to make is that if a kid truly has the potential to make it to the elite levels, they'll have many indicators to let them know, and those indicators will seek them out.  On the other hand, typically, if the parents are seeking them out, their kid probably doesn't have what it takes to play eilte (although there's the rare outlier from time to time)

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I wish more people hd your view of things.  Fun first, place multiple sports.  As  @shoot_the_goalie noted if the kid has that kind of talent it will become obvious.  As a former coach (just JV and house league... nothing insane) and educator I see so many parents pushing their kids too much and way too many of them think their kid is going to get a college scholarship of some sort.  In my opinion. Its wrong minded and hurts the kids in a variety of ways.  Stay in school, study hard, play lots of sports and have fun!  If your kid is 6'3" 210 and skates like the wind people will notice!!!

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48 minutes ago, dkmiller3356 said:

I wish more people hd your view of things.  Fun first, place multiple sports.  As  @shoot_the_goalie noted if the kid has that kind of talent it will become obvious.  As a former coach (just JV and house league... nothing insane) and educator I see so many parents pushing their kids too much and way too many of them think their kid is going to get a college scholarship of some sort.  In my opinion. Its wrong minded and hurts the kids in a variety of ways.  Stay in school, study hard, play lots of sports and have fun!  If your kid is 6'3" 210 and skates like the wind people will notice!!!

Put that money into college savings, I say!

Can’t add anything else!!!

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I’ve said it here before, but my opinion is to give your kid(s) options(different teams, levels, tryout options, practice expectations[including dry land] of said teams, ways that may change their fee time habits, homework schedule etc) all the information as you know it and let them drive the decision.  Once they make the decision, that is a commitment to the team and themselves, to work hard and complete that commitment.  

The following year, they can get that same information and make a decision.  They will have some insight into what that entails.

I also think multi-sport is very important.  We specifically say we don’t commit year round to a sport related to this.

I also think that if a parent has their kid in any sport as a means to a college scholarship, that’s unfortunate, but who am I to judge.

 

 

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17 hours ago, EJB said:

 

I also think that if a parent has their kid in any sport as a means to a college scholarship, that’s unfortunate, but who am I to judge.

 

 

I had a client who had that idea about his son for baseball. He sent that kid to every camp, private lessons, and the like. When you added it all up, he could have sent the kid to an upper-crust State university on the money he spent. The worst part? No college scholarship for that kid!

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My buddy falls into that camp.  His kid is around 8 and he was telling me how he justifies to his wife the number of hockey teams and camps he sends his son to.  "I just want him to get a little money for college..."  I didn't have the heart to tell him yet how few hockey scholarships are available, I think there is time for him to come to his senses.  When our kids were skating together playing tag or whatever, anything his son did he would point out.  "Did you see how he dipped his shoulder there to fake him out?  Somebody was telling me that was really advanced!"  "Did you see his feet on that move..?"  Etc.

People aren't realistic.  We had a high school goalie come out to our ACHA practice because he was thinking of coming.  He wasn't even a starter for his HS team, got lit up in practice, but proceeded to tell us in the office afterward he is looking at DIII NCAA programs primarily.

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As someone who has worked for the county HS league for the last 20ish years, I've seen all numbers of talented people come through, and almost none of them have gone on to play even DIII college, let alone DI. I can literally count on 1 hand the number of kids who played Varsity Hockey and then went on to play NCAA college. There have been plenty who have gone on to play College Club, but NCAA level, just doesn't happen. 

Like it has been said throughout this thread, if a kid is going to go somewhere, they will have been noticed and already be there. Sonny Milano came from Massapequa, NY. Our HS league had no idea who this kid even was because he never played a single game in it. He was already gone and in Cleveland playing by the time he was 15 years old.

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6 hours ago, BenBreeg said:

My buddy falls into that camp.  His kid is around 8 and he was telling me how he justifies to his wife the number of hockey teams and camps he sends his son to.  "I just want him to get a little money for college..."  I didn't have the heart to tell him yet how few hockey scholarships are available, I think there is time for him to come to his senses.  When our kids were skating together playing tag or whatever, anything his son did he would point out.  "Did you see how he dipped his shoulder there to fake him out?  Somebody was telling me that was really advanced!"  "Did you see his feet on that move..?"  Etc.

People aren't realistic.  We had a high school goalie come out to our ACHA practice because he was thinking of coming.  He wasn't even a starter for his HS team, got lit up in practice, but proceeded to tell us in the office afterward he is looking at DIII NCAA programs primarily.

Makes me think of the idiots who try out for Anerican Idol, as some of these people had their parents lying to them!!!

Edited by bunnyman666
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Here are my thoughts from experience. Yes, the extremely talented players, the ones that are far over and above all the others, will get found. The reality is that in today's world the more money that is put into the player the more exposure they get so it is easier for them to be scouted. But just because you dump a lot into a kid doesn't mean they will go any further than aging out of youth or Junior B (pay to play). I have seen a lot of money wasted because the parents didn't want to admit to themselves that their kid didn't have what it takes to play at a pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL. Europe, etc) level.

My kid had some opportunities to play at a junior level. He realized that that would be as far as he could go. He opted to join the military and early enlisted. I never tried to discourage him about playing but was always honest with him and we talked a lot about the game on many long trips. When families don't look at the reality of things a lot of time can be wasted that will affect them later in life. Many don't get out of school or start a career path until they are in their mid twenties. My son is 24 has an incredible job with a good future and has been self supporting for quite awhile, which is more than I can say for many of the people he played with. 

I spent a ton of money for youth hockey. Not because I had delusions of my kid making it to the pros but because he loves the game. Every private lesson and camp was a life learning experience. Every trip was an opportunity to see a different place. Playing in the Pee-Wee International tournament in Quebec was a once in a lifetime experience. He learned more life lessons and about himself playing hockey. There is a reason that many jobs like fire fighters, police, military love hockey players; the team mentality, respect, personal conduct and responsibility you learn goes along way.

When people ask about the money I spent my first reaction is "it was well worth it", my second is "it's cheaper than paying a lawyer if he got into trouble because of to much free time" 

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That’s very well said Chk Hrd.  I agree, spending money on your kids sporting activities, doesn’t mean that you are trying to build an athlete that will someday get scholarship offers.  It does happen, assume everyone involved in competitive athletics could name someone they feel is driven by that exact thing.

 I have spent A LOT of money on hockey, will spend a year worth of college this year alone for my daughter.  More or less, depending on the school I guess..  I do it because my kids love it….and my wife and  I love it.  I get to go to Boston, DC, Vermont and Ontario twice this year to watch her play.  That’s not even counting trips to Colorado and Idaho/Wyoming/Montana.  They are GREAT family trips and we build lifetime memories.  I look forward to each one, they are mini family vacations.  There are worse ways to spend time and money, than traveling the country with your family watching kids play hockey.

No scholarship needed.  Son just finished 4 years playing for the University of Utah in the ACHA.  Will have his masters in IT this fall and graduates with zero debt.  Never touched his college fund for tuition, but did recently as a down payment on a house.  If my daughter chooses to go to college, we will pay for it in entirety. Hopefully like her brother, that doesn’t include dipping into her college fund and she uses that as a springboard her post university life.

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It is nice to hear these perspectives, good thread.

I'm of the age to have kids playing hockey, but don't have any kids. I do seem to have noticed a shift in the desirability of the low range of higher end teams. Growing up in New England in the '90's, it seemed to me that if you were really good the goal was D1, Jr A, maybe even HS prep. Lower level juniors and DIII seemed to be viewed more as "eh, whatever". Now kids are pushing to try to get on a junior C team, or having press releases for committing to a DIII school that is essentially a community college. There are more kids playing hockey and not many more D1 or JR A teams, so that could at least explain part of it.

Pouring money into specialty youth hockey with the goal of playing high level hockey is such a crap shoot, even for very talented players. On my youth teams I played with a bunch of future DIII players, a few D1 players, a 5th round NHL draft pick, and our rival team actually had a guy currently on the tail end of a decade long NHL career. So I did get to see the development of a number of good players. It truly is a crap shoot. The best player I played with just stopped growing at 5'5". Yes, technically not impossible to move up the ranks at that height, but orders of magnitude harder than if you are 6'2" or something. Barring injury or something fluky, I fully believe he would have made it to the NHL if he had decent size.

Meanwhile, the kid who was drafted, I was a winger on his line for a number of years. He was very obviously very talented. However, he was also very lazy. He could get away with it as he was just a notch better than 95% of the other players on the ice. But he never went further than a D1 3rd liner. I saw him play a college game and it was amazing seeing the exact same lazy habits on the ice that he had as a 12 year old. He just didn't have the drive on the ice that was necessary.

I'm a bit involved with the local youth program and I'm amazed by the apparent indifference by some of the kids. Their parents are spending time and money on travel teams and camps, but the kids show little to no interest in playing informally. For example, I try to organize neighborhood street or roller hockey games and the same kids who will drive 10 hours to a tournament, don't want to get off their couch and walk to two blocks to play street hockey. When we were kids (and somewhat still...) my brother and I would play any type of hockey, any time. Even things like playing in the driveway with a frisbee after losing all our balls and our folks wouldn't take us to the store. So I hope their folks are enjoying the trips because clearly those kids do not have the drive to go much of anywhere playing hockey. Over the years, I've also come to the conclusion that I love playing hockey more than at least 95% of players 🙂

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I should add too that it is more realistic for the average hockey player to get academic scholarship money then athletic money. I came to that realization pretty early on and put a lot of effort into school and got a nice academic scholarship and played ACHA hockey and had a blast.

Edited by Davideo
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BINGO^^^  If it’s not the kids dream, you’re behind the 8 ball and better rethink.  You can’t buy drive.

 

Funny story, we were out in Boston and my pup was crushing.  We were sitting around the hotel bar after, having drinks, keep getting “Where is she going to prep school.”  “What’s he plan.” It was odd the looks I’d get when I said, there is no plan, just having fun and honestly, probably just going to the U.  Wants to be a teacher.  Will end up playing beer league somewhere. Looks boarded on disgust.  

 

She he has an amazing amount of drive.(funny, my son didn’t get any drive until he was a freshman in HS, didn’t play anything but rec hockey until he was a Jr. in HS).  Shoots pucks for hours in the drive.  Works hands with a golf ball watching TV.  Is becoming crazy on diet and fitness.  Comes down and asks to go to S&P or drop ins that I didn’t even know were happening.  That said, doesn’t want to billet where offered(no tryout, just camps or word of mouth) and is content & happy.  One of the teams she’ll play on this coming year was word of mouth, text out of the blue with offer for spring teams which we declined & then offer for season which we accepted.

 

Guess end of the day, as a hockey parent, I am most interested in raising a great kid(already did one to adulthood), hopefully have them get a good education(X2) & support all their hopes and dream.  All three of those have nothing to do with outside forces.  

 

I’ll conclude with an awesome story of raising a great kid and tonight.  I was working the box and one of her old coaches was coming on next and visited me.  We chatted for a bit and the game ended during that time 10M(during game and shorty after) or so.  She obviously noticed at some point and skated over to say hello to him, give him a handshake, that became a hug.  I just stood there and was proud.  I am not sure why that stands out to me, but I guess could have just rolled off the ice, but wanted to touch base and I thought it was awesome.

 

(how’s that for a who I am dump.  Probably posted too much in this thread)

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6 hours ago, EJB said:

 

(how’s that for a who I am dump.  Probably posted too much in this thread)

Not at all, great posts and good to hears there are still people with perspective, although it seems it is still an uphill battle.

i think something that helps just like anything is finding like-minded people to connect to within your org or team.  Then the conversations you have with them help reinforce the sanity mindset.

The barometer has to be fun, its easy to measure.  Th last couple of days at this little camp my son was doing i was justwatcching to see if he was smiling on the ice.  He went down jard a couple times diring some skating drills and knowing him that could have made him want to stop, but he kept going and was all smiles th whole time.  Told me how fun freeze tag was so he wants to go back to camp.  It was a real eye opener for me beczuse during that freeze tag game when they were chasing the coaches they were doing their best skating.  He was doing tight turns, edges digging in and ice chips flying and i bet he had no idea.

i learned a lot about coaching little kids this week from watching this guy, who was only 26 but was so good with the kids, it was impressive.  He kept their attention, held them accountable for doing the skills, made rhem laugh, was super organized, and ran a great camp.  He isnt in our organization but i am definitely sending my son to him for anything beyond our regular ADM stuff (plus, as much as i love coaching my kids, it is good for them to have other coaches as well imo).

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I want to go back to the first post to address the notion of a multi-activity kid... I wholeheartedly agree with this. My daughter runs track (100m, 200m, and pole vault), plays soccer, hockey, clarinet, and violin, and occasionally hikes. In the offseason she is in the weight room. She is a multi-activity girl and all-around jock.

Last year both her soccer and hockey coaches questioned her commitment to their teams because in soccer she wasn't playing club soccer, and for hockey because she wasn't working out with the team in the summer. Her soccer coach ultimately benched her. Her hockey coach was more understanding. 

Anyway, everybody always says to get off the ice, don't specialize. But, if you do take time off and don't specialize you'll be penalized. It puts everybody in a tough spot. Don't specialize = don't play. Do specialize = burnout...

I have no solutions. I do mandate time away from whatever sport but as I'm doing that I know it is costing her opportunity to start or even play next season. Soccer tryouts are next week. She's a very durable center mid-fielder who doesn't tire on the field (thanks to her hockey conditioning and relentless weight room work). We already know she'll make the varsity team. I also know the coach is mad because she didn't play on his club team in the spring and early summer. I'm also sure that when he tells her she's lost her starting position that she'll not come back. Seems if you want to play, nevermind scholarships and all that, I mean just be allowed to play, the kids pretty much have to specialize.

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^^^That’s a tough situation.  I know that happens, it’s terrible/unfortunate.  I have empathy for you and a bit of anger at the situation.  I think it’s ridiculous to force a kid to become a single sport athlete.  The soccer club we play for, is somewhat due to their willingness to allow her to forgo the Indoor season, there are other clubs that will not make that concession.  I know that puts them in a tough position(she’s a keeper), but appreciate their willingness to work with us.

This is a bigger issue for kids, even with us saying we’ll split, we can only commit to two sports.  So many sports are becoming year round.  My daughter wants to start playing lacrosse, she’d play basketball if she could, she loves to golf.  

It is surely not my youth, when you played the sport in season.

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We went through this years ago and it is a shame that with all the studies it still happens today. My son had one coach in particular who was real bad about it. If you played a summer sport good luck making the team, unless of course you were one of his star players or took private lessons from him, then for some reason it was okay. At one point my son was racing moto-x, playing soccer and hockey. It became to hard for the family to try and make all the practices, races, games and not to mention pay for them all. We talked it over and my son decided he wanted to focus on hockey so he stopped playing soccer and racing. We think it was the right choice for him. From the time he started playing he liked nothing more than being at the rink. It didn't matter if it was for practice, training, S & P or just to hang out (he even worked at one of the rinks until he left for the military). A lot of kids aren't this lucky and have to suffer because of bad coaches and associations.

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Davideo wrote:

"Now kids are pushing to try to get on a junior C team, or having press releases for committing to a DIII school that is essentially a community college."

So that rinky-dink university I attended that had DIII hockey at the time, Fairfield University, was essentially a community college? Thanks for the heads up.

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this is a great read, just thought I'd give some input from the other end of the spectrum too. 

My dad grew up playing OHL then OUA then had a pro career in Europe before coaching professionally in Europe for over 20 years.

Hockey was obviously my main sport growing up but my dad was very understanding of the game and refused to be an over involved parent. He would help out especially in my earlier years. 

As I got older and into more serious levels of hockey he would come to as many games as he could make it to and afterwards would only give me an honest assessment if I asked him. His analytical mind from coaching would obviously take over here, but it was always positive and reassurances it was never "you looked bad during this play" it was more "when this guy has the puck, you did this but when you do that heres what happens and what ended up happening, whereas the play to look for is to do this and that way the whole play changes".

He obviously wanted me to pursue hockey as far as I could and I played right through Juniors, but he would only ever be hard on me if I asked for it. he would never pressure me into work outs or to focus or practice more unless I said "what do I need to get better at" and still to this day I respect and admire that about him. He is always willing but never forceful.

He is also a huge advocate for being multi sport athletes, especially in the summer months. once my season ended I wouldn't open my hockey bag until July or August to do power skating and high intensity ice sessions leading up to training camp. His theory is people dont burn out that way and the ones who really love it come back even hungrier.

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^ ^ ^ ^ adam14 brings up a good point about parents and communication. I'm not sure how it is in "traditional" hockey areas but I'm betting it's similar to the "non-traditional" hockey areas like in the West. I don't know how many parents I have seen criticize or even berate their kid for having a bad game or not doing something right, even though as a parent, they have never coached the game or even played the game and just started getting involved in hockey when their kid decided the wanted to play. The closest they ever got to a real game situation was when the puck came over the glass or a video game. Hockey is a fast, dynamic game and if you have never studied it, coached it or played it is real easy to make comments about what should have been done or why you didn't do something, especially when you have no idea what you are talking about. Things like you didn't back check hard enough on their last goal, even though you were the farthest from the play and on the end of a long shift, didn't you see that guy sneaking down the slot, even though you were near the boards covering the player you were supposed to or why didn't you crash the net right after you passed the puck to the slot and were drilled into the boards. 

When my kid played I never confronted him about the game as soon as he walked out of the locker room. You have to give a player time to come down from the game and be ready to talk about it. My first question was usually "well how did you think you did". I would let him give himself an honest assessment of the game before I put my two cents worth in. I tried to ask why he did or didn't do something first instead of telling him what I thought he should have done. If he asked my opinion on how he played I would be straight up and honest with him, no sugar coating it. As a player and coach I know how fragile a persons mind set can be and when I gave my opinions it was from my point of view based on my experiences. I know what it's like to have a really good game and a really bad game, to play hurt or sick, get to much ice time or not enough. Being in similar situations helps you know when to talk or just keep quiet.

When I coached I always tried to leave it up to the players on their game assessments. I always told the players (and my son his entire life) to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave it everything you had. If you can honestly say you did then you have nothing to be upset about. If you didn't, then why? You let yourself and your team down by not giving it everything you had and need to try harder next time. 

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4 hours ago, chk hrd said:

^ ^ ^ ^ adam14 brings up a good point about parents and communication. I'm not sure how it is in "traditional" hockey areas but I'm betting it's similar to the "non-traditional" hockey areas like in the West. I don't know how many parents I have seen criticize or even berate their kid for having a bad game or not doing something right, even though as a parent, they have never coached the game or even played the game and just started getting involved in hockey when their kid decided the wanted to play. The closest they ever got to a real game situation was when the puck came over the glass or a video game. Hockey is a fast, dynamic game and if you have never studied it, coached it or played it is real easy to make comments about what should have been done or why you didn't do something, especially when you have no idea what you are talking about. Things like you didn't back check hard enough on their last goal, even though you were the farthest from the play and on the end of a long shift, didn't you see that guy sneaking down the slot, even though you were near the boards covering the player you were supposed to or why didn't you crash the net right after you passed the puck to the slot and were drilled into the boards. 

When my kid played I never confronted him about the game as soon as he walked out of the locker room. You have to give a player time to come down from the game and be ready to talk about it. My first question was usually "well how did you think you did". I would let him give himself an honest assessment of the game before I put my two cents worth in. I tried to ask why he did or didn't do something first instead of telling him what I thought he should have done. If he asked my opinion on how he played I would be straight up and honest with him, no sugar coating it. As a player and coach I know how fragile a persons mind set can be and when I gave my opinions it was from my point of view based on my experiences. I know what it's like to have a really good game and a really bad game, to play hurt or sick, get to much ice time or not enough. Being in similar situations helps you know when to talk or just keep quiet.

When I coached I always tried to leave it up to the players on their game assessments. I always told the players (and my son his entire life) to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave it everything you had. If you can honestly say you did then you have nothing to be upset about. If you didn't, then why? You let yourself and your team down by not giving it everything you had and need to try harder next time. 

I've never been involved with youth hockey growing up or now but I used to coach and referee youth lacrosse in Michigan, which at the time outside of the Detroit area, was far from a traditional lacrosse area. The parents were just like how you described hockey parents in Vegas except the vast majority didn't even know what lacrosse was or even seen a game until their kid came home one day and asked to join their team. Most parents were decent but the vocal minority were awful and pissed about you making calls that 99 out of 100 refs would have made on their kid. This starts to segway into another topic of people leaving coaching and refereeing which has become a major problem, depending on the sport and area you are in. I think this pressure and naivety amongst parents hoping that their kid becomes the next big thing and secure a college scholarship has taken a lot of the fun out of youth sports not only for the kids but also the adults who coach and referee.

Edited by CigarScott
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On 7/22/2018 at 10:10 PM, EJB said:

 

This is a bigger issue for kids, even with us saying we’ll split, we can only commit to two sports.  So many sports are becoming year round.  My daughter wants to start playing lacrosse, she’d play basketball if she could, she loves to golf.  

It is surely not my youth, when you played the sport in season.

It feels like to me, even in season, that youth sport is much more of a time sink than it might have been when I was growing up, even at the younger levels.  I mean, think of two practices and a game a weekend - it's an hour on the ice, 10-20mins to get dressed/undressed, travel time (in the local league, the furthest travel time to a game is 45mins - 1hr one-way, and the practice rink is probably 20mins at max from any given point in the city).  For a practice that's more than two hours of time.  And the sports league asks that of people two, three times a week depending on the level, plus a game or two.  And then it gets worse as the kids get older - there's no 'beer league' (root beer league?) for the 12 - 18 year old set, you've specialized and gone to the "elite" levels or you're out by 11 or 12.  We had a bantam-age kid one time who just wanted hockey as his second fall/winter sport (with football) as he'd started playing about two years before and wasn't into the high-level commitment, but there was just no place for him.  By comparison, as an adult, I can be involved in at least three different sports at one time - hockey, horseback riding, and softball - because there isn't a huge time sink and it's all recreational. 

Several of my regular teammates at pickup are parents, and four of the kids play with us on a regular-ish basis.  One of the dads grew up playing hockey, I don't believe he ever played at a super-high level, but he's good.  He also, at some point, realized that he cannot/should not coach his kids, whether on the ice or in general, and turned their hockey development to other people.  He talks to them on ice the same way he talks to any other teammate.  The other dad did not grow up playing hockey, and is not a very skilled player.  He has not yet realized that he should leave the coaching up to others, especially at pickup (in fact, never "coach" your children at pickup).  I think it's very easy for a parent to get very involved - they want the best for their kid - but in the same way it's very easy to go overboard, and it happens in all sports.  It's also harder, I think, for folks who didn't play (x) sport growing up to have a sense of distance.  Parents who grew up playing something are maybe better at saying "yeah, kids make mistakes, that's sport, let's move on". (or, like my dad, who participated in approximately nothing organized, has no serious emotional investment in sport at all).  I can be worse in certain sports, because they're expensive, or because they're a closed, insular environment, or whatever reason, I think it can be worse, but it absolutely happens everywhere.

For kids, talking to parents can be hard, especially if it's about things that upset them.  Parents are the responsible party, but kids are egocentric little beings and interpret everything said as being personal.  For example, if a parent says of something a child did in a game: "That was stupid." what the kid hears is: "I was stupid".  When a parent is angry, the kid interprets the anger as being toward them.  Younger kids (even bigger kids) often lack words to describe how they feel and rely on parents/trusted adults to help them find the vocabulary.  If a kid slams their stick, you can tell them that's not an appropriate response, but also, "it seems like something made you very angry, that you slammed your stick like that. Can you tell me what it was?" and it sounds therapist-y as hell, I realize, but it's giving them a) concrete words for feelings b) a chance to acknowledge emotions instead of burying them and c) an opening to talk about it.

adam14 and chk hrd make two good points: adam's dad offered options, not solutions (in this situation, what are some things you can do?) which is good coaching, and chk hrd waited to give them kid time to come down from the game, which is a great strategy for a lot of kids, especially ones who put themselves under a lot of pressure. 

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Howdy,

Replying only to a sliver of that (good) post...

Around here it seems like house / rec teams for kids are becoming more popular.  I see two drivers, either the financial/parent commitment level or the kid's commitment level.


Its a WHOLE lot more affordable for a parent to sign up for a session of "kids play for an hour at the local rink on Saturday morning), both financially and time commitment-wise.  And that also seems to map reasonably well to kids who like playing hockey, but don't want to devote every waking minute of their lives to it.

I think that's a really good development for the sport in general.  A lower commitment rec team like that is good just on its own, but it also can be a gateway for a kid to discover he loves the sport and wants to commit more, can provide the kid that's crazy about hockey another chance to play during the week, etc.

Root Beer League is a good name for it.  :-)

Mark

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When I grew up in the 90's, baseball was like hockey where if you weren't on a travel team or playing for your high school team, your Little League journey ends at about 14. I played recreational indoor soccer in high school and soccer seems to have a lot more opportunities for recreational play past 12-14 than hockey and baseball. Rocket/Pop Warner football I think ends in your area once you get old enough to play middle school or high school football. So I don't think hockey is all that unique where if you're not on a travel team or school team, that you're SOL once you hit 12-14 years old.

Speaking of travel teams, I find some of lengths people go to for their kids to play travel hockey to be insane. Living here in Birmingham, we're fortunate to be one of two metro areas in the state with publicly-accessible hockey-size sheets of ice; people in other parts of the state or in neighboring states aren't so fortunate. They have posted at my local rink the rosters of the U12, U14, etc. travel teams and there are kids playing on these teams that are from the Florida panhandle and Mississippi Gulf Coast which are 4+ hour drives in each direction. I have no idea how they practice or how they make it work, whether they're homeschooled and they stay in Birmingham with a parent for part of the week, they stay with a host family and go to school here, or they commute several times a week. According to the following site, there have only been two NHL players that have come from Alabama post-WWII, both of which are from Huntsville, which is the hockey capital of the South. I love hockey and lacrosse but I could never justify spending that kind of time and money for my kids to play them if we had to go to another state especially when there is zero history of kids coming out of these teams making it to the NHL and can probably count every kid on one hand that actually got a hockey scholarship.

https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/us-state/nhl-players-born-in-alabama-career-stats.html

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