A Message for Hockey Parents

So the hockey season is over, and you’ve just received your coaches evaluation that you are supposed to fill out. Should you be happy with yours or your child’s success this season? Of course there’s the obvious and most important question in your mind: did the player have fun and enjoy the season? If not, you better find out why and decide what you need to do for next year or maybe it’s time to decide that there won’t be a hockey season next year, and pursue some other fitness activity.

For those that know they want another season of hockey then you’ve got a lot more questions to answer. How was the teams development? Often most people rate that based on wins. In the big picture, winning is a by-product of proper development (combination of skill work, systems, off-ice training, etc). So if your team had lots or few wins, you need to ask yourself the underlying reasons as to why, and thus can help lead you to a conclusion. Winning your tier when you had no business being in a tier that low, is not a success, it is a lazy way of winning. That attitude will get you no where in life.

A teams success is also measured by how well they got along and worked together as a team on and off the ice. Were they undisciplined all season, or did the penalties increase or decrease as the season went on? Did the usual bad actors, puck hogs, practice skippers, one way players, smart mouths or ice hogs change for the better as the season went on? What about goals for and against, did that improve or deteriorate by seasons end? Did our coaches and/or organization offer extra development outside of regularily scheduled practices? What did they offer, a one-size-fits-all once a week fitness class? Development is a measure of a lot of things. So before we can evaluate our child’s coach I guess we’d need to look at all of those things plus a few more.

Speaking of coaches, some things I see from time to time when I’m scouting are coaches rarely talking to players on the bench and many not even having a whiteboard on the bench! Oh but they’ve got their double double with them, or whispering to their assistant coaches. I walk around the arena during intermissions and I see the coaching staff in the hallway for 19 of the 20 minute intermission. Must’ve been a heck of a speech he had for that one minute that went something like this: “Stick to the game plan boys, and stay outta the box.”

Did your coach offer positive advice and regular constructive feedback for the players? Was the coach there for all games and practices? Did they go over players developmental goals at regular intervals throughout the season with individuals in a constructive manner? Did the coaches have favourites that played way too much? Were they a positive role model for your player? Chirping officials, taking bench minors and getting tossed doesn’t make themselves, the organization or the players look any good at all.

Now let’s look at ours and our child’s part in all of this shall we? Did our player go to the extra skills sessions and attend every practice if they were healthy enough to go? What about finding the items we should improve on, there’s loads of resources for that. Did you ask your coaches what you need to improve on or ask a scout to come watch you play and give you feed back? Are you always trying to learn about the game and asking yourself how I can be better? How about getting some game video of yourself and getting it looked at by a development coach to give you an unbiased opinion of yourself? You can get a friend or hire a videographer to do the videoing, then you can go get it analyzed and after you’ve gotten the video analysis, you can get help in setting up on ice training and development for yourself. Did you hit the gym often enough to make a difference, what kind of training did you do and was there stretching involved? Again, a good video analysis would tell you some of the things you need to work on. How about puck handling, do you have a sheet of puckboard on the floor in the garage or basement that you can practice on after you’re done your schoolwork or will that cut into your video game time? How was your sleep habits and diet all season?

Parents, how was your fulfilment of your roles this season? Did you have your child at practice on time and ready to go for all the teams practices, skill sessions and games? Did you inform your child that this is a full time commitment by you and your child? Did you help out in any way possible when help was asked for whether it be fund raising, time keeping or whatever? How was your behaviour in the stands? Did you say the kinds of things you would want said about you? Maybe you let everyone know how much more you know than the coaches or officials. Great! You’ve got lots of time to get your certificates and sign up for next year. How did you respond to your child’s performance after games no matter how good or bad? Did you help your child budget their time to balance school, training and hockey?

So there’s some thoughts on completing the coaches evaluations. I guess when we sit down to fill out that coaches evaluation, we’ve got a lot of factors to consider. Like I said earlier there’s lots of time for you to get certified up for next year if you want to take in the role and organizations are always looking for volunteers. I did mention most coaching jobs are volunteer didn’t I ?

One last thing, if you AND your child wanna play at a higher level next year, start preparing TODAY. Look internally and ask what else you can do to make yourself better. Stop blaming others. Because it gets you nowhere in life.

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