Proper Hockey Parent Conduct

proper hockey parent conduct
Ivan Haralanov

To maintain proper hockey parent conduct, here’s how to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you

By Warren Tabachnick

Something very disturbing is going on with the parents of young athletes. Too many hockey moms and dads are getting so involved with their kids’ games, the whole point of youth sports is getting lost.

First and foremost, the most important item on the list of proper hockey parent conduct is that as a hockey parent, you must keep one thing in mind: Your child is not playing in the NHL. And as difficult as it may be to accept, the reality is that most youth hockey players will never make it to the pros—or even the minor leagues.

Avoiding Conflict at the Rink

Let’s face it. Getting into an altercation with someone at the rink is not only embarrassing to your child, it will likely result in criminal charges and possible lawsuits. That’s why you need to follow some simple guidelines on how to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you—and getting into a problem with another hockey parent. 

If you play hockey (or played it as a kid), you know how difficult it is to play the game. That alone is a reason not to criticize your child—especially someone else’s—for that missed pass or save. Bear in mind that when it comes to a very young child, their attention span can be quite short. It’s only natural that you would want to defend your child from any perceived slight (real or imagined). But unless it’s something other than words, it’s probably best for you to take a few breaths and keep calm.

The same rule applies to the refs. Even though they wear stripes, referees really are human and are prone to making mistakes, like everyone else. Insulting a game official is one sure way to draw the ire of the hockey parents in the stands, regardless of whether they’re on the same team or the opponents.

Keep Calm and Let Them Play

Another way to keep calm and maintain the proper hockey parent conduct is how you interact with the coaching staff. If you feel your child is not getting enough ice time or otherwise being treated unfairly, you must adhere to the “24-Hour Rule.” This means allowing yourself a day to cool off before you speak with the coach about what may be troubling you or your child. And it goes without saying that never, under any circumstances, do you approach the coach at any time during a game!

Finally, just as your child is a reflection of who you are, your behavior can reflect just as badly on them. Conduct yourself accordingly and keep your criticisms of the referees, opponents, or teammates to yourself in the heat of the moment. If you have questions, comments, or concerns for the referees, you should communicate with them respectfully after the game. After all, the more respectful you are in these interactions, the more likely you are to have productive conversations, just as in every other walk of life.

Most importantly, let your kids enjoy the experience.

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  1. Another great article. As a player, coach, and parent, I couldn’t agree more. On the ice I’ll joke around with a player who loses an edge or misses something that they know they should have had. But, never criticize anything beyond the effort the child is giving. That’s the only thing that, as a coach, I’ll talk to the entire team about…because it’s usually the entire team. Or, as a parent, I’ll say something to my own child after the game if I see him not giving it all.

    These kids at 12u, 10u, mites, and even at 14u, are so far from developed. They know that they missed a pass and they’ll continue to work on that because most hockey players are extremely hard on themselves as are any athletes. But, these kids do give this sport more than what most sports require.

    And, if a kid puts a cheap shot on my kid…let that kid’s coach talk to him. His coach, 99% of the time, saw it and isn’t happy that his player made that questionable play. Usually the kid doesn’t even know what he did wrong.

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