10 Sanity Tips for Minor Hockey Parents

Keep Calm - It's Just a Game 

1.      Hockey is a Fun Game, Period

The number one goal in all youth sports is to have fun.  Hockey, at its purest form, is recreation and nothing more.  When kids begin playing hockey, they don’t know the meaning of the word “Salary”.  They have no idea what a contract is or an agent or why NHL players go from one team to another.  When kids first develop an interest in hockey, it is purely for fun.  Too often this cold hard fact is forgotten and becomes lost amid a tornado of ego, politics and misdirection.  When things become hairy and stress levels escalate, take a deep breath and read that three-letter word over and over again—F-U-N, F-U-N, F-U-N…


2.      Development is More Important Than Winning

Not too long ago, I had the unenviable task of listening to a parent tell me that their 10-year-old son has been crying himself to sleep for the past week because he has been getting two shifts a game, rotting on the bench.  The coach wants a championship and because it is the AAA level, has decided that he will do whatever it takes to win.

Some people say, “When you’re playing AAA hockey, it’s about winning and if kids sit on the bench, they sit on the bench.  If you want to get equal playing time, go play house league.”  I completely disagree with this.  The fact is, every parent pays for their kid to play at the AAA level and the mandate is still development and fun.  It’s not junior hockey, college hockey, or pro, where players are commodities.  We’re talking about 10-year-old kids with developing bodies and minds.

When I was 10 years-old, we won a few tournaments.  20 years later, I couldn’t tell you where the tournaments were even held and all of the trophies and medals I received are long gone and forgotten.  I’m not where I am today because I won a 50 cent plastic medal at the Eganville Invitational in 1991.  Winning should not be the priority in minor hockey.


 3.      Don’t Worry About Status

The biggest misconception in hockey today is that if you aren’t playing AAA, you’re not going anywhere.  I hear it all the time: parents stressing because their kid got cut from the AAA team.  It’s the obsession with the letters in rep hockey.  It’s a ridiculous obsession with status.

The fact is kids are going to develop at different stages.  The kid who dominates in atom isn’t necessarily the kid who dominates in bantam, midget or junior.  In fact, that 10-year-old prodigy may be out of hockey within three or four years.  Most of the kids who dominate at early ages are the bigger kids who are just physically stronger than everyone else.  Within a couple of years, everyone else catches up and then it might be someone else who emerges.

From atom to minor bantam (10 to 14 years-old) I played AAA.  For the majority of that time, I rotted on the bench.  I was always the smallest kid on the team and always had coaches who were obsessed with winning.  I loved hockey, which is what kept me going, but I saw a lot of kids who were in similar positions as I was pack it in.  The turning point in my career came when I was 15 and was cut from the major bantam AAA team (Which at that time was the major junior draft year).  I went down and played A level bantam and had the best year of my life.  I had a great coach who played and developed everyone and I was playing at a level that was perfect for my development at that time.

The next season, I played junior C followed by four seasons of tier II junior A hockey.  I then received a full-scholarship to play in the NCAA at Clarkson University and, after graduation, played four seasons of professional hockey in the ECHL, CHL and in Europe.  If I hadn’t been cut and gone down to play A level bantam, I never would have played beyond minor hockey.  It was an experience that opened my eyes and changed my life.

Playing against the best players possible doesn’t necessarily make you a better player.  It’s no different than bringing up a rookie too soon to the NHL.  In the long-run, it is better to play at levels that are ideal for the moment, while developing your skills and increasing your confidence.


4.      Don’t Compare

One of the worst things parents do in minor hockey is compare their kid to other kids on their team.  This does nothing but create animosity.  This is a terrible result of insecurity and jealousy and can have damaging effects on kids.  Comparing kids creates strained relationships between parents, which often filters down to the kids.  It’s the, “Why is Jimmy getting more icetime than Johnny?”  Or, “Why is Johnny’s line starting on the power play?”  It’s no different than typical workplace jealousy.  It spirals into paranoia.  If you, as a parent, act like this, your kid will see it and constantly compare themself to everyone else, which is extremely detrimental to confidence.


5.      Avoid Politics

Don’t get caught up in minor hockey politics.  It’s not hard to get a reputation as a trouble maker, and whether right or wrong, that reputation follows a parent and their kid around.  When I was coaching tier II junior A hockey, one of the factors that came into recruiting and making final selections was family life.  At the higher levels, you look to get a glimpse at possible character traits.  If you are deciding between three 16 or 17-year-old kids, who are almost identical in skill, potential, grades, etc., and you are about to invest money, time and effort and introduce them into your culture, you take family influence into serious consideration.  If one kid has overbearing, meddling parents, you almost immediately cross them off.  It’s sad, but it’s true.  The last thing coaches at higher levels want is to bring in a kid who has grown up with parents who fight all their battles and run around making excuses.  It’s a bad example to set and it’s detrimental to the culture of a team and the success of your kid.


6.      Always Be Positive

A recent survey stated that the one aspect of minor hockey that kids fear the most is the drive home.  It’s the fear of criticism and for kids it’s cutting.  My dad was always really positive with me when I was young and I think that was what got me through the tough years in minor hockey.  I was always put down because of my size, but my dad always said, “Don’t worry.  You’ll grow.  Just keep having fun with it.”  There were lots of other kids who had yellers and screamers for parents and it wasn’t long before they gave up on the game.

When I was a player, the one thing that I hated more than anything was when I would make a mistake in a game and get back to the bench and get reamed out by the coach.  Couldn’t he tell by my head-shaking and slumped shoulders that I was well aware of my mishap?  What good does it do to state the obvious other than to kick a man while he’s down?  Who benefits from this?

In my first season of junior A hockey, I had one of the best coaches of my career, Steve Carter, who played for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL and later for the Fort Worth Brahmas of the CHL.  I can remember the first time I made a bonehead blunder on the ice that season.  I made the long, lonely skate back to the bench and flinched for what I thought was sure to be a blasting followed by a long ride on the bench.  What happened next was the most uplifting experience of my hockey career.  Carter put his hand on my shoulder and leaned down to my ear and said, “Relax, kid.  Now get back out there and make up for it.”  I went back out with my head held high, full of confidence and determined to reward my coach for his positivity and trust.


7.      It’s a Marathon, Not a Race

Most kids who play hockey dream of playing in the NHL.  As a parent, it’s great to support your kids and do whatever you can to help guide them along the way.  One thing that is important to remember is that the journey to the culmination of this dream is a marathon and not a race.  If times get tough when your kid is 10, 11 or 12, it’s important to remember that it’s all about developing and getting better and nothing is written in stone.  There are so many stories of kids taking the long road to reach their dreams.  Always keep that in mind, especially when the horizon looks cloudy.


8.      Always Take a Step Back

As a parent, your first instinct is to protect and defend.  If you feel your kid is being wronged or a situation is unfair, you want to lash out and hurt those who would dare bring harm to your kid.  It’s natural instinct.  That being said, it is important to always take a step back and put things into perspective.  You need to understand that your actions will have consequences and those consequences affect you as well as your kid, and others.

In 2000, Thomas Junta (google him, it’s a sad and tragic read) let his paternal emotions get the better of him during a situation at a minor hockey practice and spent 8 years in prison for his actions.  It all resulted from a typical situation that happens every day in hockey rinks across the world.

Last week I was at a minor peewee game watching a friend’s nephew play.  I brought my 2-year-old daughter along because she loves watching the Zamboni.  Throughout the game I heard every swear word in the book aimed towards players, coaches, other parents and referees.  Some of the yellers were people I recognized from real estate and insurance ads in the paper.  Do these people think I’m now going to buy a house or a policy off of them?  I wondered what these people would think if they were able to watch themselves on video.

Actions and behaviour have consequences.  Before you lose your cool, take a step back and put the situation into perspective.


9.      Be Aware of the Signs

Not everyone who starts playing hockey is going to want to play hockey forever.  Even kids who are the best players on their teams and play at the highest levels can develop other interests or lose interest in hockey altogether.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Kids often try different things throughout their childhood before they decide what truly interests them.  To be more in tune with this, pay close attention to their body language and subtle cues, because quite often, kids are too afraid to tell their parents that they don’t want to do something anymore out of fear of disappointment.


10.  Educate Yourself 

If your kid is serious about their dream of playing in the NHL and you want to shell out colossal amounts of money and provide moral support, educate yourself as much as you can about hockey and the different stages of development.  Learn about what is important for development and what path is best.  Soak in as much information as you can from as many sources as you can.

One of the biggest hindrances for kids and their families at crucial times in development is lack of knowledge.  For example, I’ve seen dozens of kids in the past few years throw away their NCAA eligibility in order to play a handful of games of major junior hockey simply because they didn’t have enough knowledge.  They think that the only path to the NHL is from AAA minor hockey to the OHL to the NHL.  They simply haven’t educated themselves on the subject of hockey and the various levels and paths.


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 →

48 Comments on “10 Sanity Tips for Minor Hockey Parents”

  1. Great post and excellent reminders for parents who can easily forget the primary goal should be the betterment of their children as athletes and people. As the young athletes get older they would also do well to read and absorb some of these. Some things, like avoiding the politics, can be difficult, but keeping perspective is very important. I wrote a couple of pieces of my own…a little more tongue in cheek for new hockey moms and dads a little while back, though I do think there are some good suggestions here with a focus on your #1 suggestion – FUN.





    1. great article. it’s not as easy as it sounds. hockey is the longest season of all sports. Parents are paying the bill and driving the kids all over after a long week of work. I went to my sons parent/teacher conference last year and the teacher said my son seemed tired on Monday morning. I was like he’s tired on Monday. I’m wiped on Monday. not all parents are the same. the wealthy family might be less stressed than me and I’m a single dad with very little help or support. In a long season I think there also needs to be lots of tolerance as well from the coaches. you cant bash parents for yelling at refs when the coaches are doing it. I also noticed its better not to be in the stands. it’s a whole different world. I made the mistake this year of letting my sons coach have it for not having his back when he took a 2 hander baseball style to his head. The kid got a 2 minute minor. I was stunned. My son had a concussion which I didnt realize until he came off the ice the next practice with a terrible head ache. I’ve told my son if someone takes a wack at your ankles and the refs dont call it and the coaches dont care, give it back twice as hard because if you dont it will happen again.

      1. your 4 times right as you are wrong…. if that makes any sense… In Hockey…if you don’t push back at times, then it will only get worse and lead to more injuries….

  2. Jamie,
    Just finished your book the other day and it was very good. I am in the AF and we are stationed in Germany, my son played U-16 in Mannheim Germany last year and he enjoyed it dispute being the only American on the team. We went to 3 camps in Las Vegas this summer and he was offered a number of contracts from Tier III Jr A teams in the US and Canada as well as AAA teams. It is difficult to determine what is the best decision to make. Thanks for your prospective and experience he is going to stay in Germany and play U-18 for MERC Mannheim, the coaching and work ethic is better than we have seen in the US. Besides, playing in Germany is a great experience for a teenager. Also, it is easy not to get involved in the politics because we can’t understand what they are saying.
    I want to move him to the US or Canada next year but don’t know whether to play Jr’s or AAA, he is 5’11 and 150 lbs but he had no problem playing with the Jr players at the camps.

    Thanks for the insight into this journey through the hockey world.


  3. This is a great article! You are spot on in so many ways. As a hockey parent of 3, I have probably made every mistake you mentioned (and a few more). Truth is – I think parents always think it is dependent upon what “they” do whether or not their child makes it far in any sport. When in fact it is nothing a parent does (of course, supporting, driving, paying and maybe finding appropriate tryouts, etc) but really it is all about whether or not the player has the desire to keep trying themselves.
    I have found all the talking, advising and car coaching has done nothing but shown them I can never be pleased with them – which is not the case. What I thought was motivating them was really telling them they will never be good enough for me. I stopped doing this early on and THAT is when I saw them really stay to improve (when I said nothing and even didn’t talk hockey at all after games and practices)….

    1. Great stuff Jeff! You’ve nailed alot of great points in your article. I especially love the arena fries one. There’s nothing that says “hockey culture” more than that amazing smell of arena fries at a minor hockey or junior hockey game. Keep up the great articles and thanks for sharing!


  4. Awesome article. As a hockey dad that never played hockey, but knows how to skate I volunteer my basic knowledge at practices and treat every kid the same. I truly look at each kid as my own son or daughter. Like I tell my son it’s a sport that everyone has to work together at. I thoroughly enjoy seeing everyone improve that I help coach and to know that they look up to me and call me a coach even though I have never played organized hockey. # 6 is a must to ensure that the kids are having a blast on the ice.

  5. What I love about hockey the best is that you really have to work hard to get good at it. It really teaches kids about commitment and effort over a long period of time, and the results are so rewarding.

    I was curious, our house kids (Atom & Pee Wee) only get one team practice every other week, and a skills session on the alternating week. Some of our coaches think that this is not enough time to work on team play. Is this a big deal at this age, and is it worth it to try and change things to get the kids more ice time? Sometime it feels like our association forgets about house kids and focuses on rep, and they get all the ice time. If ice time is so important, why not give more ice to the house kids that might eventually become the stars of tomorrow?

    1. Thanks for your question. To me, one practice or skill session a week seems low for any level. I would assume it has to do with funding and the insane ice costs we see today. The truth is, kids develop more in practice than they do in a game. They are on the ice more, getting more touches and also more direct feedback and instruction. At developing ages, it is important for the number of practices to outweigh the amount of games played. This might be a good concern to bring up with the league organizer.

  6. Please give the text a solid background! Reading against that picture is difficult and I have good eyes!

  7. Just found your blog!! i have 3 young boys (5,8,9) playing house league hockey! love it so much! youngest is 2nd year IP (beginner hockey) middle son is 2nd year novice (7,8 year old) playing goalie for the novice B team (highest level in house league) and my oldest is 2nd year ATOM (9,10 year old) and they all love playing!! We as a family try not to sign up our boys for camps, skills training extra stuff unless they want to. We have seen too many parents and kids doing so much that it runs them ragged to the point nobody has fun. My oldest wants to do everything he hears about from spring/summer 4on4 to training sessions and camps, he also wants to go to school on a scholership and get a good education while being able to play the sport he loves!! my middle chid wants to play goalie for the Flyers!! and my youngest just wants to play!! i agree too much parental input can greatly hurt their enjoyment of this fine game! fun and development is first, winning is a bonus for them!! reading some of your other posts i can relate to a lot of them as i am a goalie parent so i do not follow my son from net to net. i sit with the rest of the parents cheering on the whole team and he sees that and he tells me he likes it when he sees me (he always looks for me in the warmup before the game) cheering for them and not watching just him. Now with the whole developement aspect his team’s coaching staff does something not too many coaches do in our league. all the forwards and defence rotate from game to game so they learn all positions on the ice. my goalie doesn’t want to skate out and the coach is fine with that as he says if it were not for him in net then the score might have been a lot worse and the kids would not have had as much fun. Now my goalie is also AP with my oldest son’s team as a backup goalie which is awesome for him, he loves it in practice when his older brother can’t score on him! the only concern we have is his AP team wants him to come out to practices even thou like last night it didn’t end till 8:30 and we didn’t get home till after 9:00pm so he is tired. we are now thinking of not letting him do the later times foor the AP team. anyways great posts on here keep em coming!!

    1. Thanks for sharing! It’s always great to hear these stories about pure love for the game. That’s what hockey is all about. It’s about smiles, pats on the back and socializing. My greatest moments in hockey are the positive social experiences.

  8. You have mentioned some great points regarding perspective. We can’t even comment on the AAA level because my boys were NOT the 2 picked at age 7. It has basically been the same kids for the last 5-6 years and I can’t take it no more. I refuse to support and give my money to a cause that doesn’t benefit all players. You mentioned all players develop at different ages so why pigeon hole all players.”Development is More Important Than Winning” so why does the OMHA allow the centres to concentrate on just the 17 picked. Lets be honest with ourselves….they forget about the rest after age 7 and the house league players seldom almost never catch up. It becomes a snowball and the good get better and the house league stall. House is constantly dealing with new players and the game is never consistent. The structure that comes with playing on a team 5-6 days a week and all the perks and extra ice time puts those players way ahead.
    I also don’t run my mouth unless I have support, and there was no question my boys were good enough for at least AP, but that may compromise another player on the Travel team the following year and they don’t want that, so they took a kid that was clearly not better than my boys because they knew he would not be a threat the following year. My boys have been to the Gold medal house league game 5 years in a row and won gold twice, and that is not coincidence.
    It is very sad that the OMHA is pushing good young players to the side with their current model of development.
    It is time for a change, and yes it is fun, but if I’m sinking hundreds of $’s for 2 players into equipment and fees for fun…..guess what, I can find many other things for fun for that money. So then,….take your best 17 players and go play hockey. I bought a new stick and skates 3 weeks left in the season and this year I am letting them sit…we are done with favourtism and nepotism. Yes again it is fun and all the house money supports the league for all the 17 picked and I will never recommend hockey to new parents, or at least warn them of the pitfalls that await them if their kids think they are going to make it up the latter if they are not picked at age 7. It is a death sentence if you are not picked and it is very rare they will ever make a travel team or the upper echelons of hockey. I know some have but the % is way different if you play Rep.

    1. This happens at every level ,and the Associations a will be playing the tuneof “let them have fun its not about winning”

      1. It is hard work for both kids and parents, but closing the gap is possible. I have seen kids make Comp A coming from House C and House B, which to be fair they completely dominate at the end of the season, but not at the beginning of previous season. Comp A costs money and parents want to see improvement/development, while kids go there because they are competitive.
        But ask yourself – did I spend 100+ hours on the local community rink last winter with my kid? Did you tech him/her every time something new or reinforced the old points? Did they take 100+ shots every day on the net in your driveway? Did you take courses and/or read enough yourself or improved your knowledge? There are a ton of things you can do and not all are free, most will cost as much or more than Comp A, but if you commit to it and your kid has passion and drive, it is possible to knock one of 17 pegs out of their pigeon hole. And Comp B is not too bad either. Talk to your association, if there are enough loud voices, they will hear you. I have coaches myself in House league and most kids there are just for that – FUN.

  9. At what point in your “web design career” did you decide to put a text-shadow on your body text and figure, “Hey, that looks great! I’m going to run with it!”.

    It’s fucking illegible. Super ugly as well.

  10. All of these are great advice. Number 5 is true, but it might be more aptly named “Be aware of politics.” It’s impossible to avoid what we call politics. The process of selection that you describe is part of what most parents call “politics” – decisions which are made which are not related to player talent, ability, or performance. Overbearing or meddling parents aren’t “playing politics” – they are ingnorant or oblivious to it.

  11. Great article! In regard to your last point where can one educate themselves on what’s best at each level? We are new to hockey and our son just finished his first year. He’s 8 going on to 9. When we joined he would have been playing H4 but the coaches at our club thought it was best for him to play H3 as he was new and lacked the skills to keep up. Now for next year we are unsure of whether to move him to H4 or back up to his age group to atom?

    1. Thanks for the question! As for educating yourself, my advice is to read as much as you can. There are a lot of great books out there and blog sites flush with great information on all aspects of hockey. As for the dilemma of which level to choose, I think the best gauge is your son. Keep the lines of communication open and always be positive and supportive. Playing at the right level not only takes into account finding the right fit based on skill, it also weighs heavily upon what is perceived to be fun. At certain ages, kids will gravitate towards scenarios where there is familiarity. Some kids want to play on teams where they have a lot of close friends. Also, coaches can have a big impact on fun and development. At age 8 or 9, it’s important to have fun and not be too consumed with results. At the end of the day, it’s a game, right?

  12. Love it! I came across this article by doing some research on benching….lol! My kid (9) althought he is the leading scorer of his team has been benched from a championship game because he makes too many mistakes in his own zone….I never disagree with the coach who is not a parent but hired by our AAA structure but when I see my little boy crying on the bench and no one there to just confort him…it makes me sad….I guess I need to toughen up 😉

    I believe attitudes like that will make my #crazyinlovewithhockey son of mine hate the game someday…..

  13. That’s all good stuff but there are times when a player does have to vote with their feet. My son had such a bad experience last year in house he was verbally declaring he was never playing hockey again after games in the dressing room so I took his word for it and we didn’t sign up again. Things that were happening, they had to play the stacked teams 7 times and these were very rough games, he was being short shifted (7-8 min per game) even though he was a top scorer, he got a concussion, he got a penalty shot called in his favor and the coach pulled him to let his own son take it, and on and on. And this was in house! But due to boundary restrictions we couldn’t move him to another team. So now he plays soccer all year round and so far he really enjoys it. Soccer gets plenty crazy too but it’s nothing like hockey.

  14. Good read. Being able to play a high level of hockey, my memories as a young player was the time spent with friends at the rink and outside doing other things. Even to this day, I talk with old teammates and the one thing we always debate is which small town had the best rink burger.

    1. It’s funny how that stuff sticks in your mind more than winning games, etc. All my early memories are about those types of things too. I guess it points towards what’s truly important.

  15. Nice article, Jamie. Minor hockey parents should be provided with more of these reads, just as reminders of what is really important- the kids.

  16. Jamie, Great read !! “Circle of Life My Friend”…Just wondering…. When I signed my son to play travel hockey (and baseball) i was lead to believe that he would be playing with better players and kids of his skill level (Which is modestly, accelerated above his house peers.) No he’s not NHL material and probably never will be but he has surpassed the house level and can play with the better travel players his age. I also believed the quality of coaching would improve…..I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    After a few years of travel hockey/baseball, I can honestly say “We are disappointed.” The level of talent is extremely diluted by coaches that have sons playing on their teams. Fathers who coach just to solidify a travel position for their son. It’s defeating in so many ways and what makes matters worst, usually they are poor coaches.

    So….. why should I pay all this money to watch some coaches kid who can’t play, receive just as much if not more ice time than my own ????……

    Hopefully now you know why , as parents, we complain….

    I say complain till your lungs fall out. Youth sports for the most part is ruined by coaches/managers/assistants/parents/organization etc. etc. etc….

    You suggest to sit passive and observe, not take action for fear you will be considered a trouble maker or difficult to work, fearing your kid will not be selected for further considerations.

    Do you propose that type of resolution to life’s other conflicts? Probably not.

    That type of action is the damnation of youth sports…and the reason why it continues.

    SOLUTION (Tongue in cheek)

    Parents need to unite against the the ills that plague this industry. Yes industry, people make lots of money from these organizations.

    If the coaches kid can’t play and the coach is giving him equal or more ice time than others, take a stand. Several coaches have been booted for such reasons.

    So….How does a parent know if he’s correct in his own son’s talent assessment? Ask other parents, other coaches or knowledgeable people involved in the sport. See if other parents feel the same way. If you are correct, they will share in your opinion. Collectively, make the coach aware that this practice needs to end. If he protests and it gets worse… don’t show for the following game. (Team Boycott) Imagine the coach being the only one showing up to the rink. Now that’s showing em.

    Now united, you have made a statement. You now have a broken/defeated coach whose ability to lead has been eviscerated. Now you have your hockey team back under control. Only one problem exists. What assistant coach who also has a non talented kid on the team will coach the team now.

    Keep up your Good work,

    Peter Puck

  17. I have just come across your blog and I appreciate your point of view so much! I am a mother of a 9 year old boy who has just started Atom Rep this year. I have such a hard time watching some of the coaches who yell and are negative. My son has had a hard time with the way the coaches are now all about the win …..he has said to me ” why do the always tells us about what we are doing wrong instead of talking about what we are doing right. Don’t they know that if they told us good stuff we would feel better and play better. ” I am a mom just trying to navigate this hockey world that I know nothing about…other than my son loves the game. I am grateful for your blog, as I have the same value system when it comes to the kids. My husband and I say the same thing everyday to our son on our way to hockey…..have fun out there. The question is then asked when hockey is over…..did you have fun? That is the end of it. Kids need to be enjoying what they do….they are kids.

  18. Jamie,

    I liked your article, several of your topics are spot on, but had issues with the first one.

    Short back ground: I have coached for over thirty years. It starts with a love for the game that quickly turns to a love for the kids/students/players coaches and opponents.

    At age 11 and up, kids want to win. Just like adults. Everyone loves a winner.

    Your very first sentence “The number one goal in all youth sports is to have fun”.
    You can have fun playing in the driveway with your sister and the neighbor’s kids. (No Charge)
    The GOAL of organized youth sports is teaching and developing. It should be done with great pleasure and usually is enjoyable (Fun) for everyone.
    The GOAL is NOT FUN. Kids don’t go to school to have fun. They go to learn. Fun comes from the way they are instructed and their relationship with teachers/coaches.
    If your playing travel hockey, you are there to learn the game and practice your skills. If your looking for fun, take your kids to a movie.

    Youth coaching has been watered down by parents who coach and know nothing about the sport or coaching. ….So we have invented the term “Is your kid having fun.” HOGWASH.

    Fun is important !!! I agree, but next time you visit your child’s teachers/school, listen closely and see if they ask you “Is your child having fun.” Next time your searching for a new coach and team, ask yourself. “Does this coach seem funny are there fun kids on the team?”

    The (Kids having fun remark) is the political correct response for “our team sucks and the coach doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Example… (One parent talking to a losing parent from a team that’s win less.)
    “How did you guys do this year?” Oh, “My son had fun.”…..Too many parents who have spent hard earned money say this ridicules comment everyday.

    If your child is really interested in learning the game and he loves it, put him in a quality program and remember, everyone sits the bench sometime in there career. They love the game because it is fun.

    Parents are paying for a program not entertainment.

    By the way, having only one issue with a lengthy article is a home-run in my book.
    Great Job.


  19. What a great read thanks Jamie for your view its is much appreciated . I am sure there are many parents coaches and players that can relate .

  20. i love hockey I play hockey am on the Havelock hawks we won all of are games we bit NHL players to I love hockey its the best but its not about wining its about having fun and we have fun played together and shared the pock and we won but that doe’s it mater we have fun
    we all go to the same school we bit all the players I don’t care its a bout fun

  21. This is great except what if you have a coach that is actively bringing your son down through his constant punishment of him? It’s absolutely absurd, as remember fun? I keep preaching fun and keep seeing the coach attempt to crush him… I keep preaching, ” find what works with your coach and your team”… But when my son does some sort of play that is not exactly what the coach wants ( yet the team still gets a result called a goal) then my son is punished…. I have no idea how to get this idiot off my son’s back, as he is killing his love for the game, but ” hey what do you know? You’re just a Dad and all you do is spend 6000 USD per year on hockey and drive the mini van”… Very frustrated and kindly request direction, ideas, some sort of input that can be useful!

  22. I love reading this kind of stuff. It grounds me and reminds me that I’m making the right decisions for my son (8 years old, loves hockey). I always ask him a week after a tournament what he liked the most about the games, just to see what he says. It’s always something from the dressing room, funny thing that someone did, a compliment he got from a coach, or the juice boxes that were handed out at the end of the game. Puts things into perspective for me. He tells me “when” he plays for the NHL, he’s going to ask for $200/game, and he will give me $20. I love these early years of hockey and I’m gonna miss them once things start getting more serious in the stands 🙁 Thanks for posting the list… Love it !

  23. What are the best reads for parents to educate ourselves so we do not have “lack of knowledge”? Thank you.

  24. Nice blog regarding ice hockey. As a parent, you constantly want to do your best to make sure about your child’s achievement. Nowadays, the hockey society is experiencing massive problems with “hockey parent”, training their kids around the clock, putting unnecessary pressure on the athlete.

  25. This is great, currently have two sons in Russia 10 and 7 yr, (I’m Canadian). I think we can relate to every point on here, my wife and I are both discussing how to motivate our 10yr old who is talented but seems to be lacking motivation and almost seems like he is going backwards. Currently doing a tournament in Krasnodar and unfortunately he is getting limited play to this exact point about winning over development. Anyway great points shared with the wifey.
    BTW if you wanna see screaming parents come to Russia ;))

  26. At what age do you personally think associations should tier? We have four novice teams that are equal via a double blind draft. Every year we have to fight parents because they want us to tier. I have been at this for 15 years and everyone says tiering is the way to go but in all my research I find associations that tier below pee wee have a substantially higher dropout rate than associations that don’t tier below pee wee. And the associations that don’t tier have more success at the bantam midget level. I don’t think this is just here in central Alberta,

  27. As a parent and coach, thanks for a great article from a great perspective. I especially took note of #9, be aware of the signs. That’s got to be one of the most difficult situations, as well as most common.

    Steve S

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