10 Reasons Why I Would Never Coach Minor Hockey

Since the end of my playing days, I’ve had many requests to coach minor hockey in my hometown.  It’s always, “Come on Jamie.  This is a great opportunity for you to give back to the community.  The kids could learn a lot from you.”  I always politely decline and thank them for keeping me in mind.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love hockey and I love kids.  In fact I love teaching and mentoring young hockey players (I teach power skating and skill development on a session to session basis).  The one thing I can’t stand, however, is the politics involved in minor hockey and the look that some parents get in their eye once they walk through the doors of an arena.  You can take the most generous, caring mother or father, who would give anyone the shirt off of their back, but once the puck drops in little Johnny’s game, that same parent can turn into the Tasmanian Devil on steroids.

Here are the top ten reasons why I would never coach a minor hockey team, in no particular order.

No. 10:  My kid is the best

Every parent thinks that their kid is better than everyone else, whether they admit it or not.  They may not outwardly say it, but deep down, consciously or subconsciously, they believe it.  That means if their kid isn’t getting the minutes they feel he or she deserves, they will unleash hell to make sure that they do.  Over the years, I’ve seen parents make up lies about coaches to get them fired so that they can bring a coach in who will play their kid more.  We’re talking about ruining someone’s reputation.

Hell hath no fury like a parent scorned.

No. 9:  I know more than the coach

In minor hockey, everyone knows more than the coach.  Steve, the tax adjuster who never played hockey, but has read Ken Dryden’s book “The Game”, is bragging to Harvey, the millwright who played four years of house league, about how the team would be undefeated if he was coach.  Steve and Harvey are working themselves up into a frenzy during the game and can’t wait to let the coach have a piece of their mind come the final buzzer.

No. 8:  Everyone is a statistician

My friend and I always go back and forth about the next million dollar idea.  One week I told him that I’d really found it this time.  My idea was to create a smartphone app that times the length of a shift in hockey.  A parent can use the app to record shift times throughout a game.  Each game will be stored in the app and a running average total will be accessible, showing how much ice your kid is getting.  The app would also include an option to time other kids’ shifts and run a comparison.  I jokingly told a group of minor hockey parents about the idea and they thought it was brilliant.  Parents are always looking for the proof to show that their kid is getting screwed.  Everybody’s a statistician when they’re looking for excuses.

No. 7:  That kid shouldn’t be getting as much ice as my kid

Where you have parents who think their kid should play more, you will also find parents who think someone else’s kid shouldn’t play as much as their kid.  It never ends.  If you have Parent A, Parent B and Parent C, you will never have complete harmony between all three.  If Parent A and Parent B’s kids play on the power play and Parent C’s kid doesn’t, Parent C is mad.  If Parent A, Parent B and Parent C’s kids all play on the power play, Parent A is mad because they don’t think Parent B and Parent C’s kids should be on the power play.

No. 6:  My kid didn’t get drafted so it’s the coach’s fault

If you couldn’t pay me $100,000 to coach minor hockey, you couldn’t pay me $1 million dollars to coach minor hockey at the minor midget AAA level.  The minor midget AAA level is the age group in which kids are measured, assessed and scrutinized for major junior league drafts.  Scouts line the stands and fill out their reports on who has what it takes to make the jump to the next level.  The pressure is higher on kids at this level and even higher on coaches.  Since every shift is under the microscope, parents are more restless and irritable than usual.  If little Johnny scored two goals and his team won, it wasn’t good enough. Why?  He should have scored three.  Whose fault is it that he didn’t get the hat trick?  The coach, of course.  You see, little Johnny played 36 seconds less than his season average (Calculated on my new I-Phone App “Shift Tracker”), which would have made the difference.  Stupid coach.  My husband Steve, the tax adjuster, should be coaching this team.  Did you know he read Ken Dryden’s book?  Cover to cover.

No. 5:  The Rumor Mill

Minor hockey rinks are like the water cooler at the office.  It doesn’t take much to circulate a rumor.  Here is how it works.  Little Johnny didn’t get picked to shoot in the shootout on Saturday.  Johnny’s mom, Susan, is pissed.  Susan tells little Ricky’s mom, Denise, that she heard that the coach was swearing and yelling at the kids after practice the other day.  Denise is appalled and tells Derek’s mom, Janet.  Janet, the team busy body, runs to the minor hockey board and files a complaint.  All of a sudden there is an investigation with three sets of parents saying they heard this alleged event through the vents in the hallway.  The coach gets reprimanded and Susan smiles smugly.

No. 4:  I’ll do anything for my kid.  (Wink, wink)

Most parents will go above and beyond for their kid.  For most, this means working an extra job to put a kid through hockey or working bingos, 50-50 draws or other fundraising events.  Some parents, however, will go as far as to prostitute themselves.  Ask any minor hockey parent if they have ever heard of a parent sleeping with the coach to get their kid more ice.  It happens.  Obviously not on every team, but it happens.  Even if it doesn’t happen, the mere possibility of it happening adds more ammunition to the rumor millers.

No. 3:  Everyone is an expert

The one thing I hated as a player was when we would mingle with certain fans after a game and they wanted to give you advice.  They would say things like, “You passed on that powerplay in the second period and we didn’t score.  You should have shot and we might not have lost by one goal.”  Next game the same fan would say, “You shot on that powerplay in the second period and we didn’t score.  You should have passed and we might not have lost by one goal.”  No matter what happens, someone who never played the game has a better idea of how it should be done.  In minor hockey it can be the worst.  Since parents shell out copious amounts of money, they feel entitled to shove their opinions down your throat.

No. 2:  The politics of picking a team

New rules in most parts of Canada now state that a team is evaluated and picked by “objective” consultants due to the issues associated with coaches picking their kids and their kids’ friends.  The only problem with this is, who are these objective consultants and where do their allegiances lie?  It’s no secret that money sometimes changes hands when it comes to selecting teams.  It happens all the way up to the professional ranks, in one form or another, so why wouldn’t it happen in minor hockey.  I have known former minor hockey coaches who said they accepted “gifts” ranging from large sums of cash to job offers to ensure that a kid makes a team.  The only change with the new rules is which pocket that cash finds its way into.

No. 1:  The misplaced obsession with winning

Minor hockey rinks are filled with so much anxiety.  People get worked up when their kids play hockey.  They scream and stomp their feet throughout games and even practices.  It’s a misplaced obsession with winning that hides the real purpose for organized youth sports.  The purpose of any organized sport under the age of 16, whether it is AAA or house league, should be development and fun.  Sports are fun!  At least they are supposed to be.  99.9% of the kids who start playing hockey will never make a dime playing the sport, let alone recoup the tens of thousands of dollars their parents shelled out for all the direct and indirect costs of minor hockey.  If you’re going to spend all that time and money on a sport, shouldn’t it be fun and full of great memories?  Most minor hockey parents get this and are in it for the right reasons but all it takes in one or two bad apples to ruin a bushel.

For those of you who are ready to strangle me, check out the other side of the coin in my article: “Don’t Be That Guy: 7 Attributes of Bad Minor Hockey Coaches.”

Jamie McKinven
Author / Blogger at glassandout.com
Jamie McKinven, author of “So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?” and “Tales from the Bus Leagues,” is a former professional hockey player who played in the NCAA, ECHL, CHL and Europe.

About Jamie McKinven

Jamie McKinven, author of “So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?” and “Tales from the Bus Leagues,” is a former professional hockey player who played in the NCAA, ECHL, CHL and Europe.

View all posts by Jamie McKinven →

94 Comments on “10 Reasons Why I Would Never Coach Minor Hockey”

  1. Ya been there done that…all of the above is true. You parents should nor be allowed in the rink when your kids are playing. Most of the soccer Mom’s are now experts and The Fathers , who never got past house league are Don Cherrys. How many times have I seen young kids crying during and after games that parents thought they did not perform. I coached and played in Alberta and Ontario and observed in BC and Newfoundland. AT a dinner party one evening in Calgary I was approached by an angry Parent. His son was a special boy whom I adored and actually played a violin much better than he played hockey. His father would take him to the outdoor rink in the dark and have him skate by the lights of his truck to improve his skating. Well I can tell you that boy could skate…but only in a straight line…his time would have been better spent on that violin. I know a fellow in Nl who started playing hockey in his 20’s and now coaches young people with absolutely no idea. He can name every player on every NHL teem so I guess that accounts for something. The coaching certificate programme in Canada is a cash grab and most of these guys are baby sitters and not very good at that!! One man’s opinion

  2. Shared by another coach that I know. Great insights. In reality these are the very reasons why I love coaching at the minor level. We need more more good coaches to work with our kids and more that understand that these type of parents are the MINORITY. We need to continue to focus a positive message on those who want it. This sport would be much worse off if good coaches and educators just gave up because of the vocal minority.

    1. That is true Michael. Most of the nightmare parents are a vast minority who spoil it for others. What is needed more than anything is more information on the different levels of hockey, what is expected and what is truly valued. Too many kids end up making bad decisions based on misinformed guidance. My next article should be on “Advisors”. Coaching at the tier II junior A level, I saw so many kids ruin their careers by following bad advice given by supposedly knowledgeable advisors. You’re 100% right though. Minor hockey is severly lacking good coaches and mentors, on the whole.

      1. Minor hockey is severely lacking good coaching because the associations are run by the same type of people who are the focus of your commentary. It is the way of the democratic system , those who want the job can put up their hands and get voted into the job by majority, who are people made up of …you guessed it. So the question becomes how do we unify on how to qualify people for coaching positions? The answer is you don’t. The best solution is to give people an option and the ones who ‘get it’ will chose it.

    2. everything he says is true except the part about all parents …its not all but they are out there for sure but some of us do enjoy going to the rink and we watching our kids play and that’s all so don’t paint us all with the same brush as the idiots out there who cant face reality and think their kid is the next sid the kid …I totally agree with the rest of the post

      1. he didn’t say all…if you read to the end he said “Most minor hockey parents get this and are in it for the right reasons but all it takes in one or two bad apples to ruin a bushel.”

        1. Top 11 reasons I coach minor hockey
          1. It’s a lot of fun being part of a team
          2. Being able to share my hockey knowledge with players and parents
          3. Having a positive impact on a child’s development
          4. Being part of a team
          5. Striving for a common goal
          6. Winning
          7. Meeting new people
          8. Being part of something positive
          9. Watching the players skill increase over the year
          10. Giving back to the hockey community I played hockey in
          11. Did I mention how much fun it is?? There is never ending comedy in the dressing room. Lots of laughs.

    3. Thank you Michael. I agree that the issues the author mentioned are problematic but I object to the all inclusive terms. My son has been involved in minor hockey for five years and he loves it. My son is not the best player out there and I have never complained about the amount of ice time he gets. Of all the parents I have been involved with in hockey, I can count on one hand the number that think they know more than the coaches or have behaved as the author indicates. Our coaches are phenomenal and focus on player and skill development, not winning. I appreciate your perspective that we need more coaches like that and should not let the frustrations from the minority destroy the love of coaching and the love of the game.

  3. Great article and very interesting comments…
    A good player doesn’t necessarily make a good coach and many so-so players have turned into the best coaches! It might be a good idea in the developmental stage of the youth payers from about 15 or 16 on up to provide channels and encouragement to place their unrealistic dreams of making “the Show” aside in pursuit of coaching and mentoring, etc. I’ve been involved with numerous kids who observed and grasped the concept of high level hockey far better than they could play it and were able to communicate with their teammates these concepts. These are the players we ought to ID and steer toward a coaching path. Currently, to my knowledge, there is nothing at all like that going on. We end up settling for coaches like some of the ones your article brought up where they are misguiding others due to no fault of their own when truly potentially excellent coaches slide thru our fingers never to be heard from again when they stop playing Tier3 Junior or whatever.
    To sum, lets ID high hockey IQ youths, offer them defined career paths that will allow them to use their gifts, and get them involved early on with all of the resources available to the sport! We will see a huge improvement downstream in our future players and the game will improve even more!

    1. Empathy is a real eye opener! I foolishly thought I could avoid some of the controversy coaching by becoming involved in admin as a director in charge of evaluations! What a nightmare. Using independent evaluators and doing just ‘the math’ still lead to huge controversy and attempted deals behind my back. Really glad when both boys hung up the skates. The highlight was having to eject a coach from a NOVICE tournament due to a berating of a 15 year old ref over a questionable call. No one hurt but the language was unbelievable. Funny…no sad how so many don’t get it

  4. I understand what you’re saying, but think of the kids. I got into coaching when I realized that one of the guys you mentioned in 10, 7, 4 or 1 would coach my kid if I didn’t step forward, and that’s a real tragedy.

    1. You’re 100% right Leon. My point is just to give depth as to why so many potentially good coaches don’t coach at the minor hockey level. When I was a kid, I hated playing minor hockey. There was so much negative energy and toxicity surrounding the whole process. My love for game carried me through. Unfortunately nothing has changed since I was a kid. Maybe some parents will read this article and then read my book and realize that there is more to hockey than “All or Nothing”.

  5. The one area a coach can’t win is the ride home after the game. Instead criticizing a coach for lack of ice or decision on how to use your son/daughter. Parents should let there kids verbalize there disappointment and then ask the kid “How are we going to fix this issue? The answer is? Extra skill development! and improve. Worry about making a difference and teach your kids hard work pays off in the end. If you want to be good at anything, it comes down to hours put in, not being a whining bitch. Merry Christmas!

  6. when I was 12 I had a coach that yelled, cursed, kicked water bottles, and broke sticks(in practice). We loved him and played hard for him. 6 a.m. practices for those who could make it because the ice was free before our regular 8 a.m. slot. If our play was sub par there were “puke practices”. An hour or two of cross-overs, manmakers, and skating drills.
    I am proud 28 years later to still call this coach a friend also my treammates from those two years. All that preamble to say this; This coach had a parents meeting every year. The kids were not allowed. The jist of these meeting were
    A. When your kids come to the rink they are not yours, THEY ARE MINE AND MY RESPONSIBILITY.
    B. I do this in my spare time so if anybody thinks im not doing a good job or that you know more than me here is the whistle do it yourself.
    C. I am the coach they will learn my way. The parents can keep their critisizm and opinions of the kids play to themselves. If not see B.
    Obviously times have changed and coaching with those times. I myself have coached for over 20 years and have never had an issue with any kids only parents. The exact reason I give private baseball/skating lessons. y expectations of the parents involvement are clearly outlined. Get the kid to the rink/diamond on time sit down and shut up.

    1. That’s a nice thought, but it gets even harder to reason with the parents in the youth programs that pay their coaches. These parents think that they can dictate how things should be done since their money is whats paying your salary, even when they know nothing about hockey and their kid’s on a squirt c team…oh wait squirt b2 cuz we can’t have call a team c or d cuz it might hurt their feelings, and every kid should play travel hockey so forget house leagues (many ct rinks no longer have them) and we’ll have 5 levels of travel starting with tier 2 and 3 open tier 4 teams…

    2. “when I was 12 I had a coach that yelled, cursed, kicked water bottles, and broke sticks(in practice).”
      “We loved him and played hard for him.”
      “If our play was sub par there were “puke practices”.
      “This coach had a parents meeting every year. The kids were not allowed. The jist of these meeting were
      A. When your kids come to the rink they are not yours, THEY ARE MINE AND MY RESPONSIBILITY.
      B. I do this in my spare time so if anybody thinks im not doing a good job or that you know more than me here is the whistle do it yourself.
      C. I am the coach they will learn my way. The parents can keep their critisizm and opinions of the kids play to themselves. If not see B.”

      Experienced this myself as a child.
      Today, this intimidation is known as abuse. Unlike you, “WE” didn’t love him!
      When my kids go to the rink, they are still “MINE and MY RESPONSIBILITY!”
      B is known as “control” and that is the only way they can exist, by being dominant controlling fools!
      It’s time to kick those coaches with the mentality to: yell, curse, kick water bottles, break sticks in practice and make kids skate until they puke, out of the game for life!

  7. Same with Being a Ref at any level in any sport. Every game I go to, rather its my daughters games or other games or sports, the Refs are abused by one group fans or the other, Every call is scrutinized. Some refs may “let em play” which I prefer over a whistle fest, then you have some people in the stands screaming that they missed a call?? Its a no win situation that I would NEVER want any part of. Especially for the money they make. They are lucky if the money covers their gas and travel time.

    1. I completely agree that abuse of refs is out of control and many younger officials quit because they just cant take the yelling/name calling, which is sad.

      however ice hockey officials do make real good money. I know a few guys who just ref youth hockey, high school and prep school for a living. $60 a piece for an hour and 15 min peewee game is good money. esp when you end up doing multiple games on a sat or sun and youth games tend to be close to your house. $94 for hs-any division and $116 for prep school for each ref and $94 for the one linesmen.

  8. I have found that many times coaches are the author of their own demise. The coach certification system in Canada could be better, but it’s the lack of mentoring programs at the club level that create the most problems. The Level books and practice plans that are provided are wonderful resources that if followed provide the necessary skills at the necessary times. Too often, coaches ignore this in favor of their own short term goals, not realizing the difficulty that you create for me 2 years from now when I take your team at the bantam level and they struggle to grasp puck support or gap control. The best minds in hockey created those manuals, they know better than you, use them.

    I’ve found parents are quite easy to deal with, but it requires that you are clear at the outset with your expectations and are communicating with them consistently. It helps if you do not have a child on the team, which should be the rule, as you are now separate from the parent politics, which can infect the room otherwise. I’m at the point where at the beginning of the season, I warn my parents that there is to be no interaction with the officials on their part at all, and that if they do, I will ask the ref to toss them myself. They do us no favors by creating a hostile environment on the ice with the officials, and we are having big difficulties retaining young refs. If they don’t like this, they are welcome to go one level down and play on a different team. Try finding an association who would argue in favor of a parent who wants to berate the refs!

    Above all, be fair and consistent, and let them know what your trying to accomplish, what they should be watching for. If your trying to play a sag box in the D-zone, tell them and give them access to a handout explaining it, and as they see it progress, they will buy in, because it’s about the team. If you create a PP or PK line, once it works, cycle other players into it one at a time so that anyone can play it. When parents understand why you are doing things, they have an easier time supporting you, and contrary to the above, I find most parents are pretty good judges of what little johnny can do, but never seem to be able to offer insight in to how to get a little more out of him! ultimately, your there to develop and teach, not win the Stanley Cup, and if you make that clear at the outset, the year goes much smoother.

    1. What a great comment! Part of caching job is working with parents. Parents should be made into the coach’s closest allies, not adversaries. It is not fair nor reasonable to exclude parents completely; it is them who pays the coach’s salary in the end.

      As a goalie parent with 7-year “experience”, I would try to steer clear of coaches refusing to communicate with parents. I have never been a drop off type of parent, I love watching practices. Good coaches will always speak with their students’ parents; some things need to be enforced or worked on at home, and parents can help the coach with his or her work, too. It’s a two-way street.

    2. Alot of great comments here. And a great article. As others have mentioned, I have coached for over 20 years. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in that time and certainly changed my approach more than once. I will say this, you can set the clearest expectations upfront but some parents will hear what they want to hear and always be a problem. 90% are great and supportive but there are always that minority that continues to drive coaches out of the game.

      Some years I ask myself why I still do it. But it only takes one smiling young hockey player to smile at me and say thank you to make me understand why.

  9. Great article but it’s easy to pick out what’s wrong. How about appreciating those that step up to coach DESPITE the fact that they know they will get nothing but grief. As in any association, there are a minority that are in it for the wrong reason but yet they get 90% of the headlines like this. It’s articles like these that continue to give the sport a bad name and why it gets easier to coach bash. BTW, every minor hockey league coach in our associations in Sault Ste. Marie gets paid the same amount to coach….nothing. So I say kudos to them and thank them for the time and effort they put in.

  10. Great article. Many of those reasons above can be used for the lack of officials in minor sports as well. I was always the quiet hockey/baseball/soccer dad that never hung around the other parents. Couldn’t stand the way they acted. My kids played to have fun, camaraderie, and get some exercise. None of them had any ambitions on playing pro and that was fine by me.

  11. This is the first year I have decided to be a part of one of my sons hockey teams. And though I was not blind sided to the politics or the poor treatment of coaches, coaching staff or game officials, being on the other side of the grass does not make it any greener. The real problem with minor hockey is simply, parents! Parents who know more than you, parents who are quick to judge and parents who you only see DURING a game. You don’t see them at practise, before the game or even after the game. You don’t get email responses, texts or phone calls returned, and you are actually lucky to even have contact info for some of the kids on your team. On the very contradictory hand, one of the things I love most about hockey season is the social aspect for me as a parent. It’s not all parents, or even most of them, but the few who really don’t give a shit ruin it for everyone!
    The coach of my oldest sons team(which I manage) does not have a child on the team, neither does the Asst. coach. He doesn’t know all of the kids in our age group well, as this is his second year coaching for our organization. But the coach from the other team is a parent, who knows the kids well, and he would not coach unless he didn’t get this kid or that kid, and only if he got this goalie and the the last 5 kids cut from the rep team and the kids on his block. So the selection process that was to be even and fair turned out to be quite the opposite. And since our coach was so easy going, he took what he was given and was determined to make champions out of those kids. Shame on that other parent/coach, however, thanks to him as well, as our team is in first and have been having a fantastic year so far. We have even beat that other team 3 times so far. The age these kids are at now is an age where they understand the politics and have become increasingly discouraged by it. If it wasn’t such a healthy sport I’m not so sure I would allow my kids to play it!

  12. Another article putting all blame on parents. I can tell you there is a lack of quality coaches and it’s as big of an issue. Coaches with agendas for their own kids and that of friends. The ones that can’t seem to identify that little Johnny can’t turn to the right as well as left but never address it and continue to do the same drills over and over. The ones with the cocky arrogant attitude and talk down to you because they feel empowered. Why can’t a parent ask the coach to help little Johnny to turn to the right better without being labelled a problem parent!?!! Why can’t they both be part of the kids development? Yes.. There are crazy parents.. Yes… There are great coach’s.. But this isn’t all on the parents.

    1. if you had read to the bottom of the article, you would have seen that this represents a minority of hockey parents. These are simply reasons I choose not to coach and it is a major consensus as to why many highly qualified coaches choose not to coach at the minor hockey level, which is unfortunate. It would take an entire book to cover all of the issues with hockey development today. This is simply an article briefly explaining why I choose not to coach minor hockey. I host power skating and skill specific development clinics and enjoy giving back in that way because if parents don’t like what they see, they simply don’t sign up.

    2. John, from the other side (association board) I can also say that:

      A) once investigated, most times that I have heard complaints of PERCEIVED agendas, it has not been the case at all, just the aforementioned rumours and other crap that goes on (example, the only reason Player A made the team is because his friend’s dad is the coach, meanwhile I look through the evaluations done by a professional consulting company that we’ve hired, and the player has scored quite well, and there are times when younger players have had very good tryouts while they are not that great at game play – following the HC guidelines, but that’s a whole other debate);

      B) sometimes Little Johnny can’t turn to the right, or stop, or shoot as well as the other players despite everything that the coaching staff does, as genetics and other factors can be at play … it is up to the coach to try, but not necessarily a coaches’ fault for a kid not having the same skill as others on the team. There are 17 kids on a team, and one of the toughest jobs for a coach is to make sure all are being challenged and are learning/developing. Typically parents are watching/focusing on one kid – coaches, 17.

      I can say that from a number of years at the board level (also a target for parent rumours, complaints, abuse), that the vast majority of coaches have done a good to very good job for us. Often too much blame is pointed their way, and others too much credit. For example (true story) one coach finished last one season with his team and then won a championship the next season with a new group of kids … bad coach or good coach? He was/is a great coach, but when it comes down to it, the kids have to do it on the ice, the kids have to have the genetics and aptitude to play the game, the kids have to have the attention span to make it through a practice and learn what is being taught, they have to have the drive to learn and develop new skills, etc, etc, etc …

      In the same respect, the vast majority of hockey parents are absolutely FANTASTIC! But there are others who aren’t. Nevermind three or four, ONE bad parent can dramatically change the dynamic on a team, and it is so absolutely unnecessary in most cases. You get two or three and the season can be a horrible experience for everyone on the team.

      Have said it a million times, it never ceases to amaze me what a great job adults do of screwing up a game that kids like to play for FUN. FUN. FUN.

      My 2 cents, good article that made some good points.


  13. Great article! From one who played a high level from 10 years of age to Jr. B (up to major atom in Kingston), I have been coaching for over 10yrs in the Ottawa Region. I had, as stated in the comments above, started coaching in hopes of focusing on development of players, and teaching players (KIDS) that there is more to the game than the win and to help share the knowledge of the game and what it has to offer as a whole, before a parent who never played has been given a team. I have seen parents progressively get worse as the years have gone on, now with my own at the age of 12, parents just amaze me. I had one parent ask me to speak to their player, and I did not have to be ‘politically correct’ in my language, because he wasn’t player up to ‘his’ standards (still don’t know if he meant the player or the parents). In the same request it was noted he felt the discussion was required immediately before accepting the fact that his player was just an ‘average’ player at this level.
    As well, as noted several times, it is a minority for sure with what parents can do, but as you note in your article, it only takes 2 or 3. Along with the 2 or 3 bad apple parents comes the 2 or 3 kids that are driven to the rink with those bad apples! The kids of the bad apples now are in the dressing room with the rest……..if it only takes 2 or 3 parents to ruin it for (approx.) 34 others, then how do you think 2 or 3 players who hear about it all the way to the rink affect 14 others in the room. We are allowing the minority to affect not just the other parents, we are allowing them to affect the kids themselves. Just let them play the game!
    The kicker I have loved over the past 3 years especially, is although some parents have gotten worse over time, I have had to coach the same level as no other volunteers even step up to the plate. I love the ‘book readers’ as you so well described!

  14. I’m a first year coach after having played competitively through junior and watched a ton of high level games as well. Does that make me an expert – no. It just means I have an idea of what the game is about and it means I likely have views on how the game should be played. Are they the only ways? No. But it’s where I’d start.

    A few comments:
    1. Where in the heck do I go to get paid to coach PeeWee AAA or Atom AA? I’m torn on paying coaches. Would be a nice perk to collect some extra cash for the time commitment, but if that’s why someone does/does not coach, that’s a shame.

    2. Evaluators: (My initial thought: it’s an imperfect science and there is no exact way to make everyone happy).
    Independent consultants, parents, random people off the street. There is not perfect system. Hell, you could have Hockey Canada bring their top evaluators to your associations tryouts and 15 people would be upset with the result for each team’s decisions. Why? Because Little Johnny didn’t make it and his mom/dad felt he should have. And there are 10-15 Little Johnny’s cut from each team each year that this becomes an issue. The imperfect science can be handled in no perfect way. Issues will forever remain when one person’s opinion counts as a vote. My suggestion to our association – have evaluators come from wherever (internal to the association , hire a company, pick kids from the association, etc). It doesn’t matter really, but let them wittle a team down to 20-25 kids. Then send them packing. As a Coach, I want the final say in who I coach. I don’t want to be told, as a volunteer, who my team is comprised of – so let me have the decision (or the team’s coaching staff as a whole) on the final 3-8 cuts. One thing for parents (and coaches) to consider: of the last 3-5 kids cut from a team…if you were to switch them with the last 3-5 kids who made the team, the same displeasure would be there – just from different parents. It won’t go away. And the question parents (and coaches) should ask themselves is simply this: Is there anyone on that team who cannot play at that level? (and the key is “play at that level” – not star) The answer should be no. In most cases it is. The fact is – there’s 20-25 kids who can play at AAA or AA, but there’s only 17 roster spots. So, reevaluate your reaction with this – would your child prefer to be at AAA rather than AA? Of course. But, if on AAA, he/she may see less ice time (if the team operates in that fashion) and may never see the ice in crunch time. In that case, would your child benefit from playing more on AA (maybe more PP time or being put out in the last minute of a close game, etc.) and maybe, just maybe, enjoy themselves more (regardless of what mom/dad think about kids who play AAA vs AA).

    3. Parent Coaches – (My personal thought: keep them in place or minor sports will die.)
    I know that if Little Johnny’s dad was the coach and you have evaluators making decisions at tryouts, then Little Johnny may get cut. As Little Johnny’s Dad (and also the coach of this team holding tryouts), I should reserve the decision on whether I want to coach the team anymore if Johnny’s not on it. That doesn’t mean – Johnny’s on the team because we need the coach. That means – I am prepared to commit the time, but I don’t want to miss out on Johnny’s season as well and watching him play (whether as a coach or a parent in the stands) is most important. Parent coaches are the backbone to minor sports. Without them, most associations would end up folding or having a massive reduction in teams. As with evaluators, it’s an imperfect area. Some coaches who are amazing, just happen to be a parent to a child on the team – whether that means the child is a star or a kid who barely made the squad. I thank Parent coaches (had them from Novice through High School). They were the reason I had the opportunity to play and enjoy hockey. My dad was a team manager one year. I appreciated it. Did I make the team because of that? Probably not.

    In the end, there’s no perfect answer to any of this. Not paying coaches. Not keeping parents out of tryouts. Not hiring evaluators. Nothing. What matters is that parent’s, coaches and players all consider the impact of their actions, they consider the difficulty that people went through in making decisions that affect not just the parents, but a 8-9-10-11 year old kid who may have to go to school tomorrow and tell his or her buddies that he got cut from AAA while the rest all made the team. It’s tough. But – I beg of you…ask yourself this question when it comes to who made the team, who didn’t:

    Is there anyone on that team who cannot play at that level?

    4. Dealing with Parents: This is an easy one actually. At the rink, in the office, wherever – people deal with troubling people everywhere. How you handle yourself, your reactions to their overreactions, etc. and the stage you set at the beginning to help manage expectations and what will and won’t be tolerated is the key to a successful year. And like everything, there is not magic wand or statement or direction to be given to deal with everything. You deal with the situation at hand as best you can. And sometimes, that means ignoring it.

    I’m a confrontational person. I like to argue. I like to debate. But I’m learning, as a coach that you can’t behave like that. Our head coach is the opposite. He’s calm. He thinks things through before reacting. He answers in a non-confrontational way. I’m learning from him. Just bite your tongue at times.
    Well, that’s enough from me. I did like article and obviously it hits close to home.

  15. One thing this article forgets to mention is that there are not only bad hockey parents out there, but there are also bad hockey coaches. There are coaches who only care about their kids and their friends kids. There are coaches who go trolling after lonely moms and promise to help their kids out. There are coaches who short kids on time simply because they don’t like a kid. There are coaches who swear on the bench. There are coaches who verbally abuse players. And so on. Sometimes a hockey parents reaction, reporting a coach for physical or verbal abuse, keeping track of stats, recording games, etc. is simply that, a reaction to bad coaching.

    That said there are many good coaches who volunteer out of a love for the game and genuine interest in developing that love and sharing it with the kids. And there are also parents who whine, complain and cheat to get their kids ahead. You cannot just say bad parents good coaches like this article appears to.

    1. Thanks for the post Lisa. You’ve got a great point about bad coaches. There are definitely quite a few out there, sapping the life out of kids as I write this. However, this particular article simply outlines the personal reasons why I choose not to coach minor hockey. It is written in response to a question I have often been asked since I retired from professional hockey. If you read my book, “So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?”, you will learn alot about the damaging effects bad coaches can have on kids as they progress through life. Maybe my next blog article should be “10 Reasons Why I Don’t Want My Kid to Play Minor Hockey”. Which, in actuality, is something I am struggling with.

      1. I think you have been given some pretty good info. Ten reasons. Easy

        1. Money
        2. Politics
        3. Fraud by Orgs
        4. Bad Coaching
        5. Discrimination of Players by Level by schools
        6. Win first mentality
        7. Serious injury due to poor officiating
        8. USA Hockey ADM
        9. Bad influence on kids vales
        10. Parents living through their kids
        11. It’s just a game

    2. Lisa, well written. This isn’t a clear cut issue of bad parents and good coaches. Jamie states his reasons for not coaching minor hockey but almost comes across as he would be the perfect coach and couldn’t deal with the parents. It would have been nice to see him admit being a parent is difficult, especially when it deal with competition: in sports, music, grades, and so on. Sure, we’ve all see the one or two parents who are the outliers but the majority of parents are pretty good people and not Tazmanian Devils on steroids.

  16. Fifteen years ago, after I had finished university and had “free” time to fill, I volunteered to coach the goalies for the OMHA organization in which I had played. I had always heard about the politics when I was a kid but had never really seen them, so I assumed the stories had been exaggerations or extreme cases. Boy was I wrong! For the most part the parents and coaches and association members were all well-behaved and mature, but when it got bad it seemed to get really bad. The worst part was I could tell that the kids knew what was happening, at least from peewee age and up, and they hated it. They’d sulk in the dressing room when they knew one of their parents was behaving badly.

    I was lucky in that:
    A) I was just coaching goalies and worked with all the teams
    B) I didn’t have any kids, let alone a kid playing on one of the teams
    C) all the goalie parents were great! Just as it takes a special breed to be a goalie I now know they come from a special breed of parents.

    But by middle of the first season some parents were trying to leverage my neutrality by using me to vet their concerns or act as a middle man. I hated it. My stock response was “I’m sorry, but I’m not even sure which kids/coaches you’re talking about… I really only know the goalies”. Or if they pressed I’d say “I became a goalie because I was too dumb to play forward or defense… I’m really not the one you want arguing on your behalf”. Eventually they left me alone and I was actually able to enjoy what I was doing.

    All I can offer to coaches, and I know my circumstances were unique, is to just keep fending off all parental requests or demands with the same response every time. If the parents are going to act like kids treat them like kids. Eventually they’ll learn that you’re the boss and cannot be swayed.

    I live in California now and my oldest son says he wants to start playing hockey. I’m going to oblige him but I’m going to do what my dad did when I was a kid… stand at the end of the rink away from all the other parents and just keep to myself. And hope my kid decides to become a goalie!

    thanks for writing this article… it’s a timely reminder to me as to what I’m signing up for!

  17. Its always amazing to me that parents have so much involvement in hockey (understand the passion) but would never show up at an intramural volleyball game or show up at a parent teacher interview!!! Shouldn’t your sons/daughters math mark be more important than their sport?? No parent ever shows up at a math test and speaks their mind!!!!!!!! And no Im not a teacher!

  18. Couldnt be more correct BUT. I travel 150 miles 4X a week for my son to play in NYC because he liked his teammates and the org from playing there last year. Unfortunately, since he moved up a level this season as a Bantam and it has been a total disappointment. I have not seen so much political BS in my life. The coach told us he wanted my son on the team but he would start on the third line and work his way up. Fair enough and thats the way it should be. The org supposedly stresses development and evaluation for the players “to get to the next level”. Great We go to tryouts and find out that the the resident parent GM and the associate GMs, who by the way are living their athletic failures through their kids have been recruiting players to come over.What does he do? He brings in the coach from another organization who ironically we played for in the past and moved on. What he does is bring in 3 players, one the coaches son and makes him an assistant.that adds 2 forwards and 1 defenseman. He then adds another player off the street in late August. This causes a major logjam of 4 lines. The season starts and my son finds himself buried on the fourth line.Another thing is that the team contains 2 players that stiffed the org the year before leaving the team that they were supposed to be on in a major pickle. Early in the season my son starts to put it together with 2 teammates forming a solid third line. But then injuries strike. 2 defenseman go down with injuries and my son, who the coach says is a forward, is told to play defense until the defense until the players come back. He gladly volunteers and plays about fourteen games including 4 in a AAA tournament. The player comes back and my son assumes he is back to his old role. Wrong! He is tossed away like a used bandaid and is put back on the fourth line. He is also again used as a defenseman when the coach feels like punishing the other defenseman. This greatly has hampered my sons developement and if it werent for his HS team where he starts on the 1st line as a freshman he would be rotting this season. One player has already quit because of this thus leaving a 5 player mess of forwards.The coach refuses to talk to the parents, you have to tell the manager your complaints, and even badmouths them in the lockeroom. What a total waste of time and money. Travel hockey on higher levels is an investment with some return expected. Sorry for the rant but it does go both ways in hockey.

    1. This is a perfect example of a parent living and dying with every second, and not understanding the team concept. its not all about your little johnny.

      1. Actually, it IS about little Johnny. Each and every little Johnny. It is about development, and learning. And if little Johnny is not having his COACHES look out for his interests, he and his loved ones need to. Are you out of your mind, James?

  19. This is so true, sad but true. I have lived through this with my child. In an organization now that does not behave this way, promotes skill development and fun. And the parents who want to bitch and complain are asked to leave rink…so much better!

  20. It’s too bad you feel this way. I’m a proud parent of a youth hockey player and was fortunate enough to coach him for 2 years. During that time, I would only say only one or two of your ‘ten reasons’ applied to me.
    Politics doesn’t rear it’s ugly head in youth hockey but in selection into honors programs at elementary schools, getting a job, running for government (duh), etc. It’s time to put your big boy boots on and help make this world a better place. It’s so easy to point out the problems. Find a solution. Unless I’m missing something I didn’t see one solution in your article. I wish you the best as you raise your children (assuming you have them) and hope that none of these 10 reason ever apply in any area that they perform (music, arts, athletics).

  21. You said it perfectly! I am always trying to figure out how to watch my kids games without interacting with “those” parents sitting in the stands around me! I could never coach. That being said, sure appreciate those that do volunteer their time.

  22. I think leagues need to set strict ground rules. I coach minor league soccer. I’m very conscious about making sure everyone gets the same amount of playtime regardless of ability. Every parent gives the about the same amount of time and money to have their child to have fun, get exercise, and learn a sport. Its frustrating when playing against teams that are obviously keeping their best players on the field while sitting out their worst.

    1. How you choose to operate a team is up to the individual coaching staff, is it not?

      If you choose to run a competitive, play to win kind of team and the kids and parents understand that, then there isn’t anything wrong with that. Involving the kids and the parents in that discussion and decision is the key.

      If you choose to run and equal playing time system, that’s great and may be what you and your team need.

      Neither way is right or wrong. It’s a case by case decision.

      1. Glad to hear it Steve, and House I do think that your perspective is a widely held one. It’s been my experience as a parent and a coach that most coaches and parents do not have the skill set to support young children (under the age of 13) in the context of uneven playing time. The feelings of shame, unworthiness and incompetence that often result from less playing time simply do not help create better athletes or a better team. And most parents are not at their best when they see their kids feeling that way. There’s enough challenge, adversity and conflict in sport for ‘life lessons’. And I absolutely agree with older kids that when you run a competitive team with unequal playing time that you communicate it up front with parents and players, and also be prepared to help your players learn how to be their best in that context. Just another perspective.

  23. Excellent post. I grew up playing hockey. I still do and I still love it. But my daughter is into alpine ski races and I am sure glad. It’s only her agains the clock. No politics there.

  24. Good thing there are still coaches out there willing to overlook the BS that the parents dish out because they remember that it is for the kids! Good coaches know that they can’t please everyone but they also remember that it is about making the kids better people as well as better players and they are not their for the sake of the parents. It’s too bad you can’t see pass that to share your wealth of knowledge with some very deserving kids.

  25. Thank you for saying that sports means fun!!! I always try to instill that into my kids it’s not always about winning but it’s about having fun! My sin played hockey for 6 years starting at timbits… No he wasn’t a superstar but he was having fun and getting exercise ticme that’s most important and it wasn’t about him scoring goals although I know he would of loved it but I always told him assists are better then goals they couldn’t fixit without your help

  26. Ya it’s funny how 1 minute parents are us coaches friend and the next minute us coaches are getting the cold shoulder and evil eye!

    1. These top 10 reasons are all about the negative side. Remember hockey is about the kids. So if you have 15 or 17 kids on your team, there is 15-17 reasons right there. On top of that, there are parents who are normal. Don’t let the few that fall into these top 10 ruin it for everyone else. I definitely don’t. And if you do, then you probably shouldn’t be coaching in the first place. I don’t disagree that there are frustrating parents, and these top 10 reasons would make a normal potential coach run away and not look back. But we need good coaches in minor hockey who a)know how to coach b) know how to teach c) know how to motivate. If we let fear mongerers interrupt the steady flow of good coaches then where will the game be???
      Please focus on the positives people!!

  27. I’ve got to say, I really liked your article, and can pretty much think of a parent or parents who fit every scenario you named. In that sense, I totally agree. For the most part, I think a lot of coaches do not get the support they need & deserve for doing a volunteer job & providing a service to kids & community that is supposed to be fun & helping to develop young minds & bodies while helping them learn a skill. On the flip side, I don’t agree that ALL hockey parents can be lumped in to the same group. Let’s start with #1: I do not think my kid (or any of my 3 boys, for that matter) is the best…whether you believe me or not. I think they are the best at being my sons, and I’ve always encouraged them to be THEIR own best. My oldest spent one year in Atom Development (the first “rep” year of hockey in our community) & it was the worst year of hockey ever! My husband & I honestly couldn’t figure out how he even made the team, and said we would never do rep again, even if our kids really wanted to. We just aren’t cool enough for the rep club, and it was a lot of time & $ that we didn’t want to sacrifice when we have 3 boys that play. #9: I most definitely do not know more than the coach. I barely figured out what off-side was until a few years ago. I put my boys in hockey trusting that the coach will do his best teaching my boys some skills, some teamwork & help them to have fun doing it. #8: I know there are those parents out there, but my husband & I are not them. Most of the time while I’m watching my kids play, I have to focus on what number they are…nevermind keeping track of their stats. Oh yes, the boys know for sure, but I have better things to do, and not enough time to do them than keeping up with how many goals/assists/etc. each of my kids has. Case in point: my youngest is in his first year of Novice. One of the first games this year there was a breakaway & the kid came down & scored. My son is very tall for his age, so I thought it might be him, but wasn’t sure. All the parents around me were cheering & looking at me, and I said, “Was that my kid?” and looked at my cheater player card to check the jersey number. I don’t think I’ll live that one down. lol #7: Ice time…refer to #8. I can barely keep track of my actual kid, let alone his ice time. I ask them at the end of the game if they had fun. They always do, and have never complained about being short shifted or anything. Mostly because my hubs helps coach, and refuses to shorten a bench in house league. EVER. #6: Considering each of my kids’ abilities – my oldest who can analyze the game like nobody’s business, is a beautiful skater, will ALWAYS know every position & who should be playing it, is always the one to lead the team cheer, but will also let someone else rush the puck, or do the work if they have more initiative than he does (which is a lot of the team); my middle son who loves to play hard and cares less about finesse than he does about getting the job done, is happy to get a “Gordie Howe” hattrick (goal, assist & penalty in minor hockey), but is basically an average or slightly above average player & my youngest who likes to public skate while there’s a game going on – I’m not under any grand illusions about any of them getting drafted. Which is totally fine with me. There is more to life than hockey. In fact, I’m more of a summer person myself. #5: Oh, the rumor mill. Well, none of us can claim complete innocence here, can we? It’s just too easy to get sucked into without even realizing it. The real trick is to just walk away, and say nothing. Better yet, be the last to arrive before game or practice, and the first to leave after. This is one main reason why my husband stays away from head coaching. If he’s just the assistant coach, he doesn’t have to deal with rumors or the truth, for that matter, of unruly parents, players etc. #4: Jeez Louise!!!! Really???? I can’t even begin to address this one. I would do pretty much anything for my kid; when it comes to their safety or education. Within reason of course. This goes WAY beyond reason. #3: Again. Not an expert. I would not presume to try to “coach” educate, or otherwise offer advice about something I know nothing about. Basically, I get my kids to explain the game to ME. #2: This is the one that really ticks me off, and kind of encompasses all the other things. Rumors, agendas, payoffs…they all come down to the teams, and really, no matter how it’s done or how neutral the person is who makes the teams you will always have haters & make someone mad. Somebody has always gotten the short end of the stick & will kick up a fuss. The process for making teams seems pretty straight forward to me, but really, it seems like there is always a hidden agenda somewhere. Kind of sad, really. #1: This goes along with one that I would like to add “Parents with a complete lack of sportsmanship”. I have always taught my boys that it is a game, and you are competing, so you should play to win. That is the point. Otherwise, just go to public skating. Get out there, play hard & do your BEST. HOWEVER…that said, it is a competition, someone wins, someone loses. It’s not the same winner every time. So learn to lose gracefully. If you’ve done your best, you can be proud of yourself & hold your head high, even if the other team won. Learning to lose gracefully is even more important than winning. THAT said, I have also seen a lot of teams/kids/PARENTS who do not know how to win gracefully either. That, to me, is the saddest part. My kids always seem to have fun, and that is the most important thing to me. If they played as a team, and had a good game, I am happy. That has nothing to do with the score. As far as parents who are poor-sports, they are not doing their kids any favors. Those kids will grow up thinking everything is owed to them and will be in for the shock of their life when they get to the big bad world.
    All in all, I agree with your reasons, just don’t think that all us parents are like that. There are a lot of bad apples out there, just not the whole barrel.

  28. All these reasons are the exact reasons I got into coaching minor hockey. It takes minds like yours to step in and absorb this all. Then go right ahead and find the proper steps to change the culture of hockey. My job now prevents me from coaching unfortunately but don’t spew rhetoric like this unless you’re willing to step up and be part of the change.

  29. There are some good points in this artice, but none of these things would ever keep me from coaching. Parents can be controlled. I’m an experienced hockey player and I don’t take any bullshit from parents. I’m there for one reason only: to give the kids a safe and FUN environment to play, learn and develop. I make this crystal clear at my parent meeting at the beginning of the season. Anyone who doesn’t wish to buy into this philosophy is welcome to go to another team or volunteer to coach, next season. Any parents who are out of control would forward to the association exec to handle. I get an incredible amount of satisfaction and laughs coaching my team this year, they are female house, we’ve won two games all year but amazingly the kids are still having a blast. Perhaps it’s the right mix of great kids and a good program, but I wouldn’t let any of the above keep me from coaching. It’s just too rewarding. I hope anyone reading this doesn’t get discouraged from stepping up. Being an experienced player certainly helps you in passing the game on to the next generation. And I wouldn’t say every parent behaves like this. Most are very supportive and help out with the small stuff, like team management, treasury, exec, officiating, etc etc. Yes there are come heads but we’re talking 2% here. (Or 98% if they’re Burnaby Winter Club parents haha!)

    1. ” Parents can be controlled. I’m an experienced hockey player and I don’t take any bullshit from parents”
      Coaches are some of the biggest hypocrits on this article?
      Parents all bad coaches all good? What about the coach that tripped the kid after the game on the ice? How many coaches have thrown hockey sticks onto the ice to protest a call? How many coaches have been kicked out of games after making a ten year old ref cry on the ice? How many coaches have not subscribed to fair play and relentlessly benched kids pushing stronger children ahead on the bench in a house league game?
      There are great coaches and parents and equally bad ones on both sides, the story is a joke and does only to promote his book, Don’t want to coach? Who cares move on, 10 othes behind you fighting to get the chance.

  30. This is an ongoing problem that can be solved thinking outside the box. A simple solution to the parent problem is that since all kids have to shake hands after the game, we should make all parents do the same. it can be organized to meet outside the ice and all parents there must participate. Those that do not, should have one warning and a second time lose their right to be in the rink. This is a positive approach to the problem and also teaches the kids that respect for the game must be brought to the rink by the parents also.
    Another thought is that the coaches should have a meeting with the parents before the season and rules to cheering for the team should be discussed. Parents should have the right to cheer for their team as much as they want, however any comments directed at the opposing team or officials, must be eliminated from the stands. Again the coaches can work with parents in the stands to curtail negative attitudes.
    Just my thoughts.

  31. Very interesting article as we are just discovering the realities of rep. hockey politics. Our daughter plays house league and had a wonderful coach this year. She did not start as the best player by far but she progressed significantly and had a lot of fun – while developping great relationships with teamates.
    We met problem parents – 1 who complained to the league (without talking to us first) about OUR child not getting enough ice time ?! REALLY? We knew exactly how much she would play and had open communications with the coach. We know her. Shouldn’t WE deal with our own child?

    We have also now discovered the joys of rep. hockey politics. Our Houseleague coaches think our daughter should tryout for rep. Tryouts have not yet been held but we have been told that all the spots are already filled by the coach’s choice of players – including his own child and friends. My daughter may not be good enough to make the team. Not an issue. But, if you say you are having tryouts to pick your team then have a tryout but don’t PRETEND you are having a tryout while having already commited to the players you want.
    That I take issue with.

    That said, most parents I have met are wonderful and we have been having so much fun chearing on our team.
    Kudos to all the volunteers, coaches etc…

  32. Hey, Jamie –

    I just read your article and love it. I think it would make a terrific addition on my blog, CrossIceHockey.com. Would it be possible to republish it, and provide both a full credit and link back to your site?

    Thanks for your consideration. I look froward to hearing back from you soon!

  33. Some or most of this is true. What is terribly disconcerting is that there is no enumeration of skills or strength or speed or anything you can coach or teach or improve to improve any player. Far too often it involves “strong skater, excellent hockey sense, toughness.” I have never seen a practice where any of this is really taught in a way a player could actually work on something to improve. Contrast this to football where each play on the field can be evaluated and scored. And the scoring system is well founded.

    Last year 4 of the NHL first rounders are sons of players. Contrast this to golf where not one player is the son of a golfer. Tennis the same. Hockey is exclusively the sport where being “fathered” through improves your chances by over 100 fold
    What the players want is not really more ice time, but knowing what they need to do to earn it–and that there is a drill, exercise, or development program that of the player fulfills improved his result.
    And “you need to win more battles” is equally vacuous when the coach does not teach how to battle with the same attentiveness an offensive line coach teaches footwork, balance and leverage to even a first team all American.

  34. How does anyone read this with this photo background behind the letters. I sure have a hard time with it.

  35. My kid quit hockey because it was no fun anymore , smart ! it would have done nothing for him anyway , even though he was on the top 3 on his team . Quitting really threw the coaches for a loop .

  36. One thing I just don’t understand is why kids keep playing hockey when they always lose game after game year after year and in last place . I guess if it wasn’t for them the winners would have noone to make them happy or proud . It’s like wealthy people without the mass poor they would be nobodies .

  37. I am really sadden by this article. What the writer fails to understand is the role of other folks on his staff/bench. Team Managers are responsible to help traffic the politics of parents and the minor hockey executives. Coaches absolutely need to have leadership qualities and a likeable personality to be able to talk to difficult parents. Issues with coaches should always be handled by the Manager to allow Coaches to do their job – coach. For anyone thinking of coaching minor hockey, do yourself a huge favor – find yourself a really good Manager that can problem solve and interact with all sorts of difficult people. You will have an amazing hockey season.

  38. try coaching 11A3 hockey, its a whole different game. you have kids who can’t skate and parents telling you to teach them cross-overs and how to skate… My son is here to play hockey, not a skating class but parents think its up to the coach to teach them the basis! They are 11, they should be taking lessons on the side. Ice time is expensive and limited – the coach needs to focus on teaching HOCKEY. ENOUGH SAID!

  39. Oh my god, this is so fricken true! My boyfriend is a coach for minor hockey and while sometimes i wish he didnt coach, its his passion. We have no kids but he dedicates so much of his time to the kids. His own words were “I was in a bad place growing up, I had a coach who steered me in the right direction and I wanted to give back to what was given to me” Turns out some parents feel that because we dont have kids of our own that makes it weird. Others thinks its great because that makes him unbiased. Regardless, too often i hear the same thing from the parents. Not enough Ice time, my kid deserves better, my kid IS better ect. I find it funny that its always the parents bitching yet the kids (They’re a PeeWee Rep team) absolutely love him! He makes it fun for them as much as he can.

  40. In 7 years of rep hockey I have seen far worse coaches than parents. Parents get a bad rap (I personally have never seen one with a stopwatch). The solution to louuse coaches (and we are at a bout a 50% success rate is simple, get coaches with character and integrity over X’s and O’s. coaches should abide by 3 rules.
    #1) ROLL THE LINES (no exceptions. None. Never. Nada. Game 7 and 1 minute left and its tied. Roll ’em). No power play unit, no PK unit. My son has played B/A and AA and one year he was the top scorer and other years he was middle of the pack at best so I speak from experience at all levels.
    I can not tell you how many times a special line was put out and it totally backfired. Waaay more often that it worked.
    #2) No screaming and yelling. Our best coach actually spoke to the kids right when they got off the ice to correct something calmly.
    #3) Understand that your role is to set the lines, set the systems, teach the kids. Refer to #1) and #2) above at all times.

    As for non parent coaches the idea seems solid but our experience has been worse than with parent coaches. They were young guys and got a little too friendly with some of the players and they got all of the PP time etc. A disaster. Thankfully one of them is gone.
    Our experience is at the A and AA level never AAA. But it shouldn’t matter. Holy crap its just a game.

  41. Great article. My son played Minor hockey in Northern BC up until last year. I pulled him half way through the season due to politics and minor hockey assciation BS. This wasnt a rep league this was house league hockey. My child came to me about an incident before a game. Let me state up front that I’m aware that my childs side of the story is only half the story and that between two sides of the story somewhere in the middle is the truth. So I contacted the coach to discuss the events of what happened.(Conflict resolution 101…I believe all minor hockey coaches are rquired to take this) I received no reply from the coach but I am aware that he was discusssing this event with other parents. After no reply from the coach is when I contacted Minor Hockey. At the end of it all my son was sent to another team because the coach was pissed I made a formal complaint and that a formal discipline committte would “ruin his reputation”. I agree hockey parents can be over the top alas there are a few coaches who are as well. My son who loves the game of hockey will not get play the game he loves because a coach who’s ego was too big and lacked the character and integrity to teach these 14 year old boys respect dignity and fun.

  42. Everything you said is true all of that goes on. However, there are Coaches that manage to stay away from the bad apples and are to make a difference. We need more of these rare individuals in minor hockey.

  43. I don’t know about the prostitution (sign me up I’ll coach then!) but much of this article is correct. But I have a few comments.

    First off, in minor hockey or any other minor sport the concept of “fair play time” must be applied, and for anything other than tier 1 or maybe 2 (and I am not sure about that) this means “equal play time”. Kids do not sign up for sports to sit on the bench and parents do not pay for sports to subsidize some other kid’s outrageously long play time. If you as a club or coach don’t want to play a certain kid, don’t put them on the team, bozo! Let them play at a lower tier or give them their money back and tell them “we’re full”. Don’t take the money and then bench the kid. It’s disgusting and disgraceful to bench kids and amounts to child abuse and theft. Now I am not encouraging parents to use a stop watch, it’s pretty hard to get the playing time exactly equal given all of the things that go on including penalties, injuries, etc. But if your kid is only playing 3 minutes a period (assuming 3 lines) you should tell your coach very directly that if it doesn’t change next game you are not bringing your child to games any longer and you a filling a complaint. I know it’s hard to throw away the $900 fee but let’s face it the coach is throwing it away for you, and also wasting your time. And you need to remember the coach works for you, not the other way around. He/she is like a school teacher, hired to teach your child. And also remember most clubs have evolved on this point where they encourage “fair play”. If the child doesn’t belong on the team, they should have been put on a lower tier. If they do belong on the team, they should play or you should do everything you can to destroy the coach and get rid of him.

    And just to head off the haters who will say “oh well your kid wasn’t good enough to get more ice time”, no, his last experience was house (so fed up with the politics of rep) and he was the highest scorer on the team by the end of the season with 3 minutes a period. But he had to carry the winglets all season and the coaches wanted them off the ice. Their own kids could play 4-5 minutes a shift no problem though. When I addressed this with the head coach he said “well you need to bring your concerns to the manager”. What a whimpy dodge. There is no club policy saying I cannot talk to the coach. And what was she supposed to do about it? She’s not on the bench.

    So second, the main thing that facilitates most of what is wrong with minor hockey in Canada is the boundary restrictions, giving clubs monopolies on certain territory and players as well as preventing the free establishment of new clubs. The boundaries remove accountability. Most other sports don’t have them and function just fine. Sure, not having boundaries causes other problems including all the crap parents will do to place their kid in the highest tier possible and I’ve even seen whole teams move to a different club for a shot at a higher tier (which usually ended badly). But the boundaries don’t solve most of that I’ve seen hockey parents actually change their address to a rental property they are sub-letting to play with a certain club. It’s a rule that serves no purpose but to lock players into a club when there isn’t a good fit. Maybe the grass is always greener and a different club wouldn’t help, but I’ve had an experience that suggests it sometimes can. Unfortunately due to the boundary conditions the only alternative was soccer to get away from the small town politics and selfish coaches in hockey. There are at least 3 large city clubs that are closer to me than where my son has to play, but they cannot accept us under the rules we have to play for a more distant small town and either drive 3 hours one way for a game in rep or watch him sit on the bench.

    And that is another small point in passing small town vs big city hockey. In the big city, clubs probably have more than 10 teams in 10 tiers. No big deal if you don’t make tier 3 you play in tier 4 and are still with your cohorts. In a small town, if you don’t make tier 3 because the coach chose his friends kids, you get to play with kids who are a full head shorter than you. It makes a big difference if you are 9. So I guess this small point was number 3.

    Point number 4. The most important one. Hockey is a true Canadian phenomena and we love it here. Love it to the point where we cheer our children on when they are beating the piss out of some other kid from the other team we love it so much. But it will never catch on world wide any further than it already has. Why? Because you need an arena to play it even in winter. That arena needs a big refrigerator to make the ice and that uses a lot of power ($$$). And then you loose about 15-20% of the possible play time to ice resurfacing. Plus it is by nature very violent, with allowed hits you would never see in American Football or even Rugby, and fighting as well which is allowed by no other sport besides actual fighting (boxing, wrestling, I’m not sure Ultimate is even as bad.) So hockey will always be a novelty sport world wide and as such I think Canadians should start letting it go if the clubs and authorities can’t fix it up.

    Remember the movie Slap Shot? It was a critique, for those who didn’t get it. Funny anyway but a critique.

  44. Though I agree with most of the 10 reasons…most coaches quickly forget that the parents get suckered into paying copious amounts of money for Rep hockey. And like any money spent you expect to see value for said money. All the extra ice times that are purchased by the team are for what exactly???….development right? So put the effort in and coach a good practice. I know it’s a volunteer gig….I’ve coached other sports. But don’t coach simply to get your kid into Rep hockey. Coaches need to learn communication skills….this is something that several lack.

  45. On the other hand, you could coach house league. I have 4 kids and s combined 14 seasons under my belt. Nothing but positive experiences. We play all players equally regardless of the situation. I have had some parents comment about ice times, but I always explain that lines change subject to the game, and it will all work out by the end of the season.

  46. Ok however not all coaches are great…I have seen them single handedly destroy a kids spirit.Especially the ones who’s son is on the team.Ive seen kids who get in trouble if they do not pass all the time to the coaches son…even if the coaches son plays like s…Because of this I’ve moved my son out and now plays on an aspiring AAA team from an A team.The ones with the sons are the worst …hmm mm.
    Let’s make my son captain nobody what because I’m the coach and and I can do whatever I want…
    Is this the reason enrollment in hockey is down? Perhaps or parents are just fed up with the cost or the overall status of a private club that if your not friends with the elite your son or daughter will never get picked!Especially in those small towns…

  47. Jamie, just stumbled over your article”,…. 10 reasons not to coach minor hockey ‘…… It is very well written and …..your list is very accurate with the exception of those parents who actually threaten physical violence towards i.e.: parents from visiting associations, referees, and volunteer administrations within their own hockey associations ! Sadly, these people look beyond all the important developmental aspects of the game and dream far beyond their sons and daughters about playing in the NHL and pulling in the big paycheque. As a former High School Athletic Director and minor hockey coach both in my community and at the regional level, I was startled ( still am ) at the inappropriate behaviours and motivations of parents both at High School but especially in minor hockey. It made me realize that a massive educational hockey package for parents must be prepared and executed at both levels.( Hockey Canada and Quebec has improved on this ). High School was easier to administer as we had the direct support of the Director and the Board of Governors. MInor hockey is a volunteer system and unless you have many applicants to chose from, you are very limited to find the quality coaching needed to work with the kids. This also affects your administration team in charge of your organization ! If a hockey associations cannot affectively follow their guidelines, chaos erupts; and eventually no -one wants to help, coach or administrate. It only takes a small band of ” Bad” parents to ruin the bushel. Our son has played 10 years in the NHL and our family objective was never top “Push” him in the sport…. just have fun and know it is a commitment once you have started your season He loved the it. If hockey works out for you then ” good on you “. It has and we have very happy our philosophy of the “development “outweighed everything else. The other option was to join in at yelling,belittling and embarrassing our son in the stands like some parents find appropriate but in the long run not affective nor sound parenting.
    Keep up with the good articles even if one aggressive parent ” Get it ” ! Thankyou.

  48. I’ve been a hockey mom for 5 years now, mom to 2 boys 8 and 10. Yesterday was my first time as a volunteer coach at a ” Out of Breath ” novice tournament. Arrived at the arena looked for my sons name, assigned to which team ( team I was coaching obviously) , got in the room and asked for attendance to identify the rest of the team. Never seen these kids before, my kid was not paired with any of his other “regular novice season teammates ” and we had a wonderful time. I was not part of the process for who I was coaching, as I thought it should be.
    We played for 4 hours, we talked between games, found out their favourite Christmas gift .. Favourite pet .. Etc.. and after it all we walked away with bronze. I will never see these young boys and girls again and I wish them well as I shook their hands as I gave them their metals thanking them for making ME a part of THEIR experience.

    I sit in the stands of my sons regular season practices and games and all the comments and gestures that parents come up with is beyond me and scares the heck out of me to step up and coach in the regular season.

    This article is bang on and I related to every comment and see all the points being played out in our community. It’s a real shame how some bad apples scare some people from stepping up to volunteer a season of their time to coach and mentor a young group of boys and girls who are looking to have some fun at a sport that they love.

    Thank you for the article and all the feedback posted. Really makes you think

  49. Mite coach ” There are NHL Players that get less than 2 minutes of ice per game so whats the problem”
    parent discussing Squirt coach “I told the Coach I could have claimed him on my taxes so he’d better stay on the AAA Team”
    Pee Wee Coach “If your not from here you don’t belong here”
    Bantam coach “If you ask me your son didn’t deserve to make the HP program”
    HS coach ” people in this town would be upset if your son played varsity besides I have skin in the game”

    USA hockey coaching certifier ” welcome to the most corrupt organization next to the mafia that exists”

    junior Hockey coach “I Talked to xxx coach at xxx university about your son and they are really interested as long as your son stays here to play” xxx retired three years prior to the conversation.

    Yes its all the parents they are all the problem and all the coaches and GMs have never tried to manipulate parents or players for their personal gain. why are there pre-draft camps that yield zero tenders zero roster slot year after year at tier II. Why are players the best of the best till they are going to college instead of paying another year of $10K plus at tier III.

    I’ve never seen books get cooked for the Owner’s, GM’s, Coaches son who is on the team for 6 months in a row either. no never seen it multiple times in multiple places.

    Here is the truth if you are not politically affiliated know some on or a great A– Kisser and your son or daughter isn’t Wayne Gretzky forget it you wont crack the good old boy system.

  50. ya commenting again, but to number 8 if my kid isn’t good enough to play don’t take my money Try and understand I did not pay so your kid could play. Selfish? How about how selfish it is when you take my money but my kid doesn’t get to play. If it’s just going to be your kid, guess what you pay all the fees and my kid is playing soccer FYAH. Ya no, I am not spending this sort of money when what you are really doing is stealing from me..

  51. I ref minor hockey and as a ref you see you much negativity around the game. There are many parents and coaches (not all) who forget that the kids just want to have fun and it’s just a game. I’ve done games of kids ages 7-12 where I’ve had parents and coaches who got kicked out. I’ve seen both parents and coaches at these levels kicked out for threatening other parents and coaches. I’ve even seen police called to the rinks because of fights between two different coaches. Personally I think this should never happen you should be there for the kids and so they have fun not there for yourself.
    There was one time I was the linesmen and the ref called a penalty. While I was skating The player to the penalty box all I could hear was a parent yelling. It was the players dad. I could tell the kid was upset and embarrassed. I said to him “it was a good penalty to take you stopped a guy from getting a breakaway.” He answered me and said “I know I’m sorry about my dad though.” No parents should ever embarrass there kid like this. I truly felt bad for that 10 year old boy who had to apologize for his badly behaved father. The father should be setting a good example for his kid not the other way around.

  52. I have coached and convened minor hockey for many, many years. I tried to make a difference by treating every player equally and with respect yet by the end of it all I was banished because of this. Organized hockey, from the big leagues to house league will always be about winning at all cost, regardless of any rhetoric organizations spew otherwise. My local association’s discipline head, the person in charge of insuring every player is treated equally and with respect told me at a meeting where I launched a complaint about the abuse of players that “all players, regardless of league and regardless of what they tell you want to win and are willing to do anything to do so”. This meant being benched and having shorter shifts. This all in the face of their own policy stating that benching and shorter shifting would not be tolerated.
    Needless to say I lost.
    Organized hockey is destined to be a “B” sport (at best) until the time smarter minds take over.

  53. The Negativity Surrounding the game, the teams, the rinks is growing. And will continue to grow unfortunately. In Mass, Why do people get involved? Their child plays the sport, which is great and most times someone in the family has played as well. But the Organizations are in need of Coaches all the time and they just don’t have enough non-daddy or mommy coaches available. The problem lies with how the coaches are chosen which is an incredibly hard task to take on and the population to pick from. Granted, not everywhere is like this but overall it is this way. I’ve tested it and proven it.
    I would love to discuss and focus on fixing the industry and help foster positivity. On any level, in any league, positive and vibrant cultures will provide the best for our youth and at any age. How do we get there?
    I’ve been coaching now for 24 years and have watched the industry change dramatically. Not just what we physically see but mentally it has become an entirely new Arena. Unfortunately, Parenting is a big part of the issue but there is so much more to it then just that. Within the sport, overall, we need to address it and work towards a better hockey community on a large scale.

  54. You knowJamie, I use to think that guys that have played the game should give back and that their experience was invaluable in the development of kids and their sport. Having played both hockey (Tier II) and baseball at high levels and a deep love for kids, I was always happy to give back as growing up my favourite memories were around sports and all that entails.
    When my kids were born, I built a backyard rink when my oldest was 2 and he didn’t even use it for 2-3 years but it was there just in case. When he finally started playing I figured I’d help in whatever fashion was needed (put up pucks if I had to) to help the coach.
    Now 7 years later, I’ve been head coach for soccer, baseball, tball, and mostly assistant coach for hockey, this being my “real” first time as head coach.
    Our season has been going amazing well. I should say, I’m like you, in that I believe in development being the most important thing and although I’m extremely competitive, I know this is the kids journey (not mine) so losing is part of that journey and that every kid deserves to have a great experience and run to the rink because they are so excited to play the game. I’ve had many parents ask me why I’m not coaching Jr A, that I’m the best coach they’ve ever had, their child is having the best time of their life, etc…
    Unfortunately we had 12F & 3D at beginning of the year so I’ve had to rotate the kids through D and for the majority that went well and I’ve converted 2 or 3 kids that now prefer D but of course some parents (well truthfully 1 parent) doesn’t like his child playing D so the child (unaware) tells me that her father told her, she gets $5 for a goal & $20 for a hat trick. That’s what you want from a D, someone who lines up on D and then plays F trying to get the $20 (and I don’t blame the child). Another parent that offered to be an assistant coach sometimes I have him run the Fs as my other coaches aren’t always available (coaching other kids) keeps his child’s line out there for 2+ minutes (even though he knows our target shifts are 30-45 secs). Now the team which we would win games because of development, playing with pace, the whole greater than sum the parts thing is starting to fall apart not due to the kids but due to parents and their interference.
    I’m now going to have to run 10F, 5D or risk his child getting caught out of position and leaving her partner with no chance. How ridiculous is that but it’s what I’m forced to do. I also ha e to make sure that other assistant coach never gets to run the F lines so our shift length (and therefore our pace) which was our team’s advantage continues.
    I totally understand why you will not coach. Sadly this is the end of the line for me. I know all my parents will be disappointed (even these 2 parents have told repeatedly I’m the best coach they’ve ever seen) but I just can’t deal with the selfishness of the parents and putting their child’s needs ahead of the team.
    I’ll finish off this season but that’s it for me… so I totally get where you are coming from and I don’t blame you at all.

    Parents want great coaches, kids deserve great coaches but parents are exactly the reason the great coaching stay away from coaching. They are exactly the reason the don’t get what they desperately seek.

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