Friday, August 21, 2015

Striking a Balance Between Parent and Coach

as seen in USA Hockey Magazine's August 2015 edition

  Ask nearly any sports fan, and it’s more likely than not that the waterworks start flowing when Field of Dreams hits its crescendo:

  “Hey, Dad … you wanna have a catch?” asks Kevin Costner’s steel-faced Ray Kinsella.

  It’s typically 13-year-old-girl-at-a-One-Direction-concert from there on – even among the toughest, Tie Domi-est of individuals.  Such is the power of sports to create that bridge between parent and child. It’s no longer just a game, but an emotional lifeline.

  But what happens when that lifeline intersects with another – that of coach? Even the best parent-child relationship can be strained when mom or dad earns a coaching certificate.
     Lancaster,PA hockey dad Tim Frey knew there would be more than a few rough patches when he signed on to coach his son’s PeeWee AA team. His biggest challenge was making sure didn’t “over-coach” his young goalie, especially when away from the rink.  Assigning his assistant as his son’s position coach was a smart play, “I was hoping that hearing advice from a different voice, it might register better than if ‘dad’ was giving the same suggestions.”
     My daughter’s coach will often tap one of our other coaches to talk to his daughter about her performance. “There are times when I have thoughts that I may be pushing my kids into something they may not really want or even holding them back in certain ways by coaching them at certain levels,” says Dave Harter from Camillus, N.Y.

     Sometimes coaches overcompensate too. “I am quite often much harder on my own child as I expect a very high level of respect and sportsmanship,” says Harter.    When it comes to discipline, striving for fairness can be a struggle. “You can’t come down harder on them, just because they are your kid or you can’t tell them they’re grounded or you threaten to take away their phone. You have to keep discipline hockey-related, says Nathan Brightbill, Hersey Jr Bears 14U girls coach. “Praise them when they deserve it, Instead of being worried the team parents think you’re showing favoritism.”

    The coach’s kid always plays. We’ve all heard that one and may be guilty of saying it to
other parents. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching the coach’s kid receive all the playing time while a better player is riding the bench.  Coaches who volunteer may feel they’re entitled to the perk for stepping up.  But the majority, like Frey, do it for all the right reasons, “The greatest joy I got to experience as a coach, was being able to place a medal around my son’s neck after winning our league championship. I  get to tap him on his mask when heading to the handshake line.”

      Frey is in no hurry to see it all end anytime soon, “I relish the time he and I get to spend
together heading to the rinks.” Keep it fun, adds Frey, who points out success is measured in ways other than wins and losses.  It’s all amatter of striking that balance between coach – who wants what’s best for the team – and parent – who wants what’s best for his or her child. Do that, and you’ll cultivate the trust of everyone on the team – including your son or daughter.

  Because afterall, if you build it, they will come.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Bauer Hockey Keyboard App - Hockey Emoticons!

Hockey Window That's a Breeze!

Turn those piled up hockey sticks into a sporty window treatment and score points with your kids!

What you need:

Old hockey stick
Curtain rod brackets
Tab-top valance

Mount curtain rod brackets to support the stick and then hang the valance from the stick. A breeze!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dialing It Down for the Summer

You've noticed some skill in your young hockey player's game and you're thinking -- hoping, really -- a free ride to a Division One college program might be possible.  So you consider having your youngster play year-round, focusing only on hockey.  You might be doing your child more hard than good.


My daughter dials it down when they shut off the lights in the rink for the last time.  She gets a taste of other sports ( like lacrosse) and gets to meet other coaches and kids.  I like that idea.  It turns out that this is also a great idea for the hockey side of my daughter's game. 

“It’s been proven over and over that cross training can be helpful for all sports. Let the player have fun, explore and find their way. Especially when they’re young,” says Syracuse Mountain Hockey coach Scott Montagna, whose son played D1 Hockey. If the goal is to play D1, there will come a time when you’ll need to invest a serious amount of time and effort into training. “There are very few naturals in hockey,” he told me.
The father of a college hockey star and NHL draft pick, who asked to remain anonymous for this article, says his son always played several sports growing up. When the time came to get serious, he still took time away from the rink. “In the spring and summer, we would cut back to one or maybe twice a week," he said. "The kids need a break mentally and physically from the intense AAA schedule. The parents need a break, too.”
Burnout can be a factor and that’s when knowing your kid comes into play. “I’ve seen kids who will skate two to three hours a day if they can and they are bummed when their parents make them leave," says Montagna. "The most important thing is you can’t force it on your child.” 
“An athlete’s most valued instinct is desire. There’s no way a child can keep optimal motivation for a sport if they’re playing 12 months a year. It becomes a job,” says Oswego, NY coach Bill Cahill, whose daughter plays four sports.
Veteran hockey coach John Katko, from Camillus, NY, encourages his sons to play other sports too. “To me, the more sports you can play the better. You develop different muscles, coordination, skills with different sports, which in the end makes you a better athlete,” he said.
Keep in mind that the numbers are against your child.  A 1985 study of all 30,000 10 years olds playing hockey in Ontario found that just 147 -- about 1 in every 200 youth players -- made it to D1 or juniors, and just 32 of  those ever played a shift in the NHL.  Only 15 played more than one season and only six played long enough to get an NHL pension.

And one final reminder from the father of that college hockey star and NHL prospect: “The thing I always tell people is I am raising a person, not a hockey player. A sport is just a tool. Using more sports means I have more tools to raise the best person possible.”