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AHU Coach’s Corner – Guest Column: More tips for hockey parents on how to not get rattled


jamieThis is Part 2 of 3 in a series by Jamie McKinven of


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 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 themselves to everyone else, which is extremely detrimental to confidence.

5. Avoid 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.

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.

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. 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 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 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.

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, Central Hockey League and Europe. Along the way, he discovered a great deal about life, love and the value of following through on a dream.

(Dec. 5, 2018)

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