For parents it can be a scary thing when your son or daughter shows interest in playing hockey. For us veterans we know the time and money involved in the sport. We also understand that it can be a priceless opportunity for our kids to not only develop their athletic skills but grow lasting friendships and become better, more rounded individuals.
The most important aspect of youth hockey is to make sure it is fun for the players. We need to remember as parents putting in the time and money, that it is about our son or daughter getting the best experience out of it. We have all seen or heard the vocal parent at the rink that thinks that their 7 or 8 year old is heading towards the pro's. You just have the feeling when you look at or listen to the player that the only reason they are there is because their parents are making them, or pushing them beyond their desire. It's sad to see because these are the kids that drop out of sports all together because they never develop a love for the game. If we as parents have to push our kids to go to the rink for practices and or games, it may not be an issue with our kids. We may need to take a look at ourselves and see if we may be the problem. Do we regularly criticize their play or effort right after a practice or game? Or do we leave that up to the coaches? Do we point out what they are improving on and look for the positive?
Positive reinforcement works a lot better than negative. It is said the magic number is 5 positives to 1 negative. We all as human beings respond better, try harder and enjoy what we're doing more when recognized for our effort. Hockey is one of the toughest sports there is to learn and become proficient at. There are a lot of skills that need to be developed from skating, stick handling, passing, shooting, reading plays, teamwork, etc. These all take time and positive support from us parents if we want our kids to developed a true love for the game.
Remember, players don't all develop skills and abilities at the same time. There are probably kids on the team that seem light years ahead of your player in ability and skills. Don't worry, don't compare them and make your kid miserable because he doesn't stack up. You see it all the time and it makes you smile as a coach or parent when the moment comes when something new click with a player that was behind the pack. All of the sudden by the end of the season you have a new star player.
Be patient, be supportive, be encouraging and most importantly, make the hockey experience a fun one that will grow into a lifelong passion.
HOT SHOT STIX
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