How to Act like an Adult at a Youth Hockey Game
as published in USA Hockey Magazine, February 2013
We are a passionate group and often wear our hearts on our sleeves. It's all good. It's when our tongues get ahead of us in the stands that it can get bad and downright ugly. When hockey parents act like children, nobody wins.
DON'T BE THAT PARENT
"Hit him! You better skate if you want a ride home! Forget your glasses ref ? Puck Hog!" Sound familiar?
It's a good thing our kids are wearing helmets to help drown out the critical cries from moms and dads in the stands. Yelling at your kid isn't going to make them skate any faster or shoot any better. Having a meltdown over penalties not called and screaming at the referees won't score you any more points either. It will help you lose respect among parents, and if you're loud and nasty enough, it might earn you a ticket to the parking lot. Emotions can run high, especially this time of year, with playoffs approaching. It's not always easy, but parents need to chill in the stands. Your kids watch and learn from you.
There are a number of ways you set good examples of good adult behavior, all while sitting in the stands. Let's say the other team is really struggling. While you may be thrilled with the remarkable lead of your team, imagine what it feels like for the other team and their parents. So temper your enthusiam after the 6th goal and subdue those cheers and claps. Think polite golf clap. Be classy.
Resist temptation to trash talk opponents, players and refs. How would you react if your child did the same thing? If your hockey player does start to complain about how the referees weren't being fair, or the other team took so many cheap shots, turn the conversation into teachable moments. Remind them that the way to succeed and in life, is with accountability, control and respect.
Easy to make and easy to break. Go back to that code of conduct you signed at the beginning of the season. Are you playing by the rules and being hyper supportive or hyper critical ? Maybe just plain hyper. Are you biting your tongue when you see players on your team miss a pass or fail to take that seemingly easy shot ? Lets take a moment and make some promises we will do our best to keep:
1. Make a promise to yourself not to say a single critical word about the officials during and after a game.
2. Tell your child what they did right and let the coach tell them what went wrong.
How can we teach our kids to love a game when what they hear and see from us is hate?