Monday, September 14, 2009
The many hats of a hockey parent
By CEAN BURGESON
for California Rubber Magazine
Hockey parents fulfill many roles for their youth athlete. First and foremost, we are parents; nurturing our children and making decisions that are in their best interests. These decisions include which teams our kids should play on, how we’ll get them to practices and games, and how we’ll pay for their season, equipment, tournaments, and other hockey related expenses. At times, it seems like chauffer and financier are the only roles we play in our hockey players’ lives. But don’t underestimate your influence.
Some parents are also coaches or assistant coaches. With this comes the added responsibility of the welfare and development of not only our own player, but an entire team full of other players. But even if you don’t coach your son or daughter’s team, there’s a good chance you’re coaching your child at home, by playing street or inline hockey and going to sticks and pucks sessions. This type of involvement has an incredibly large impact on your child’s growth and abilities as a hockey player.
Another hat we wear as hockey parents is that of trainer. We have to make sure our athletes get enough sleep, eat the right foods, and stay healthy. Part of this may involve helping a child recover from an injury by taking them to doctor’s appointments and supervising rehab exercises. And after the healing process is over, taking the proper steps to prevent further injuries.
An additional role that all hockey parents fulfill but may not think about is that of sports psychologist, especially with younger athletes. We have to keep them mentally prepared and prop them up a bit when they get cut from a team, take a tough loss, or perhaps don’t perform on the ice as well as they had hoped. Goalie parents are probably the best amateur sports psychologists on the planet.
We are also agents, managers, and public relations staff. I’m not saying we should be grooming our kids for the NHL. I’m talking about being an advocate for your young athlete. This means being involved with their development in an active and constructive way by maintaining a good relationship with the coaching staff.
This doesn’t mean arguing ice time or telling the coaches how much better your kid is than the rest of the team. Instead, carefully watch their development and pursue a healthy dialogue with the coaches as to what your player needs to work on in order to develop most effectively. And lastly, we are public relations specialists, sending out relentless emails, Facebook postings and pictures to grandparents, friends and family members, probably to the point that they think we’re mad for spending so much time on hockey. It’s great, isn’t it?
So, as we set out on yet another hockey season, I’d like each one of you to pat yourselves on the backs for successfully wearing all of these hats during the course of this season. You deserve it, and probably don’t get praised enough for all that you do.