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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A letter to Parents

I know this article has been written more times than it should, but I'm going to write it again and encourage all of you to give it to your parents. It truly saddens me that I need to write this but I'm passionate about the game I coach.  This weekend, while coaching my 10U Hockey team, I witnessed the worst display of Sportsmanship/Parenting I've ever seen.   It was appalling.  While I'm not going to go into a ton of details, let's just say, I was shocked, embarrassed and down-right offended.

I don't care what age your child is participating in, remember, they are always giving it their all.  Sitting in the stands, you may think that he's dogging it and not playing hard, but as a coach, I watch these kids and they give it everything they have. They play for the love of the game.  They play because hockey is a passion unlike any other sport.  Hockey is not a 'just for fun' sport that your kids plays because it's easy to get to and they can show up, run out of the car and start playing.  Don't get me wrong, they have fun playing it.  But my point is this, it takes way too much commitment, time and energy not to be playing for more. Practices as crazy hours and there are long drives to rinks and games. There is a lot of equipment that includes skates that they play on, so it takes effort and desire to play this game, it's not for everyone.

As a parent, you have rules.  Seriously, as a coach and a fellow parent, I'm telling you, you have rules.  Yeah, I know it's your kid, but there are boundaries. Lines you DON'T cross.  And I'm not talking about lines with a coach, referee or a parent from another team.  I'm talking about lines with your kids.
1. Don't climb up the glass to yell at your kid while he's on the rink or on the bench. It just makes you look like a fool.
2. Don't EVER open the door to the rink and call out your kid and make him skate over to you so you can yell and berate him in front of the fans, his teammates/coaches and the other team. It makes you look like a bigger fool.
3. There is NEVER a place for this in any sport. EVER.

A few simple things to remember while you are at the game:
1. They are kids. Plain and simple. Believe me, I know at times they can be frustrating, I have 2 of my own. They make mistakes. No matter how many times you tell them, they forget, they just don't want to, or possibly it just doesn't make sense.
2. They are NOT professional players. If they were, you'd be sitting in the luxury box eating ridiculously priced sandwiches and cheering with 18,000 other fans.
3. They are learning the game. I know these seem repetitive but they are. They are still learning. Think about when you were a kid. Did you get it all right the first time? The second? Probably not even the third. They are trying.
4. Notice the small things. He may not be the best scorer, but so what, it's a team game made one play at a time. Learn to notice the plays that made a difference. The blocked shot, the clear of a puck on a penalty kill, that back check that saved the tying goal. If you're not the Goalies parents, we seem to think the only thing that matters is scoring. As a coach, I congratulate the small plays and stress them more than scoring. Those are the plays that win games.
5. Your job is to encourage and congratulate them. The coaches job is to coach and help them get better, but the coach should also encourage and congratulate them as well. All they want to hear from Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Friends, Neighbors, anyone who comes to watch the game is "Good Job. You really played well." They understand the coach is there to not only encourage them but to coach them and help them get better. They want to make you, the parent, proud.

I've learned a lot in my few years of coaching and this weekend, everyone on the rink got a valuable reminder of why we are there at every practice, every game, every tournament and every moment of their lives for our kids. Pass this along to your leagues, your friends, your family.

*Thanks to Graham Acres @gacres99 for this great video.


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