In A Devilish Mood: Parents, relax and enjoy the youth sports experience
As a parent of three youth athletes, I understand the strong desire that we have as parents that our young athletes are going to someday play professionally.
I can’t even count how many times I have been speaking with parents and I hear the phrase, “We are just hoping that our child will get a Division I scholarship.” While I admire the faith we, as parents, have in our children, I think it is time to state the obvious.
Statistics tell us that the vast majority of our children are going to be doing something other than playing professional sports for a living. I think we need to understand what the purpose of playing sports is for our children. Team sports, such as hockey, can teach our children incredibly important life lessons that will benefit them in whatever it is they decide to do with their lives. The ones that come to the top of my mind are work ethic, teamwork, leadership skills and competitiveness. Our job as parents is to support and encourage our children.
After witnessing a lot of crazy parental behavior over the years, I thought I would give you my thoughts as to what you should do, and not do, as a parent, to ensure that your child’s time spent in sports is the best experience it can be and also that he/she gets the most out of his/her time.
For the purposes of this article, I will be referring to the Ice Hockey Parent but these rules apply across the board for youth athletics.
1. LEAVE THE REFS ALONE! Your job as a parent is to support and cheer for your team, not to scream at the refs. If you are new to hockey, I want to let you in on a secret – referees are not perfect and are going to miss some calls and probably are going to make some bad calls, and I am talking about NHL refs! Calls not going your way is part of hockey and it is how your team deals with it that is important. Please don’t let your child use the “ref cost us the game” excuse. There is no place for excuses in hockey. You either did your job or you didn’t – this is called accountability.
2. LET THE COACH COACH! I like to let my parents in on what I my hockey philosophy is, not because I am looking for their approval, but because it is very important that parents are on the same page as the coach. If your child has any chance at all at playing at a higher level, there are some qualities that coaches look for that have nothing to do with the players talent, and are every bit as important, if not more important. One of those qualities is coachability. Coaches will ask, “How coachable is he/she? This simply asks if the athlete can take what I am teaching him and put it into his/her game. When you, as a parent, think you know more than the coach and tell your child to listen to you and not the coach, you are not doing your child any favors.
3. FORGET THE STATS! Hockey is a team sport and any good team will have a mix of goal scorers, playmakers, defensive-minded players and role players. One is not more important than the other. Personally, I believe that you have to know how to play good defensive hockey if you have any chance at playing at a higher level. If your child scores a hat trick, but was also on the ice for five goals against, how much did he/she really help?
4. FUN! FUN! FUN! Make sure your child is there because THEY want to be there and not because YOU want them to be there.
Brad McCaughey is the director of hockey for the Desert Youth Hockey Association.