Every year the coach says some variation of “You be the parent, let me be the coach,” at the first team meeting. And you get it, right? In most cases, the coach knows more about hockey than you do, and he or she has taken on the coaching responsibility. But Monday-morning quarterbacking, not to mention backseat driving, are almost American traditions. We just can’t help ourselves from talking to our kids about their performance at practice much less during a game. Is this helpful? Are kids just rolling their eyes at us, taking it all in—or both?
The Right Time and Place for Everything
The last turn to our neighborhood rink involves the longest red turn arrow in the history of traffic lights. A figure skater we know once confessed that her mother made her cry every morning before practice while waiting at this light. Hockey players dread this light, which always seems to be red, offering parents the opportune time to get in some last-minute car coaching.
But is driving in the car really the best time and place to offer your two cents? Consider this, you are engaged in driving, the most dangerous activity in the United States (statistically speaking). Additionally, ask yourself this question—would you like it if your boss gave you feedback through sidelong glances or comments tossed to the backseat? Learn to quiet the car coach, and you can simultaneously improve your driving and refrain from alienating your kids.
What the Kids Think
During a tournament/jamboree weekend, we conducted an informal and highly unscientific poll of players ages four through 18 from Colorado, Texas and Wyoming. In response to the question of “How do you feel about car coaching?” We got everything from blank stares to confessions of vague tolerance. What we didn’t get was any level of excitement or enjoyment regarding a parent’s last-minute advice or post-game analysis. No matter how irresistible you find car coaching, consider these trends:
U8/Mites: This group was most likely to not understand the question. With the USA Hockey ADM emphasis on skill building rather than scoring, parents rarely have a reason to engage in car coaching beyond “have fun” and “play hard.” Kids in this group who are car coached let the conversation go in one ear and out the other.
Squirts: New to competitive hockey and score keeping, this is the group that absolutely haaaaates car coaching. What makes it worse: when mom or dad is a coach on the bench and in the car. Sorry dads, but Squirts’ universal survival strategy is to ride with moms whenever possible. (A strategy that clearly only works for sports in which dad is more likely to know more than mom. See baby-sitter anecdote above.)
PeeWees: Pre-teens start to lose patience with car coaching, especially when what you’re saying doesn’t jive with what the coach is saying. If your player has a phone or iPod, don’t be surprised if the earbuds go in.
Bantams: This group is experiencing checking for the first time, so their most common reaction to your advice is “easy for you to say.” When a parent says “be more aggressive” and “use your body,” many players in this age group are thinking, “I’m just trying not to get killed.”
Bantams: A Midget with a driver’s permit has larger coaching concerns—and so should you. (See driving statistic above.) A Bantam with a driver’s license is free at least.
So, is our advice not to talk on the way to and from games? Absolutely not say longtime coaches. Provided you’ve mastered the art of driving while making supportive noises, as opposed to a big confrontation—you can have a productive conversation.
Don’t criticize: Most kids know better than anybody when they do something wrong, mess up or have a bad game. Listening is much more important than speaking. Additionally, active and empathetic listening will strengthen the bond with your child.
Ask questions on the way to the rink: Ask what they are going to work on during the game. Don’t tell them what they need to work on—that is the coach’s job.
Be quiet on the way home: Often players need to talk, vent, or sit quietly and think. Their cup is full. You really aren’t going to teach any lessons on the way home from the rink.
Listen: Ask non-leading questions and let your player lead the conversation to and from the rink.
Answer honestly: If your player asks questions, be honest and focus the probable consequences of each approach, but leave the decision to them. If you aren’t qualified to answer, suggest someone who they can ask or get the answer yourself and show them the source.
Consider the teacher: Honestly, most parents know little about the game of hockey. Would you take a college class in debating from a person who has only watched debates? There is no doubt that parents pick up the game, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Don’t blame a bad game on anything: Hockey is a complex and fast game; blaming the refs or coaches or another kid reinforces the view that others control their destiny. This is the number 1 bad lesson in life and in hockey. The kids do control themselves and this lesson will help them deal with self-imposed stress.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kelly Anton, Executive Editor of Grow the Game, for this article.
Eastview Hockey Association has partnered with Dr. Jennifer again this year for FREE custom fit mouthguards. Dr. Jennifer's high performance mouthguards help the players talk and breath easier because they are custom fit to their teeth. The appointments are scheduled based on your schedule and what works for you. The mouthguards will be done in one week for you to come pick up. Please see the attached flier for more information.
**If your player has orthodontic appliances in their mouth, the custom fit mouth guards won't work. They will damage the appliance due to the process of the custom fit mouthguards. We do however have basic mouthguards for the player if they would like one. No apt necessary for these.
top left: JERSEY BAG top right: Hockey with SKATE POCKETS bottom: 3 COM bottom: Hockey with Single Pocket
EASTVIEW hockey and jersey bags as pictured can be ordered from Humming Berg Bags. They use reinforced zippers and 1000 denier nylon with a vented lightweight shell for a long lasting no-nonsense bag that’s very affordable. These were offered last year and were a big hit with the players!
Deadline 2: DECEMBER 14th ships in time for Christmas (please order as soon as possible)
To speed up order processing, please email asap: ITEM CODE (see PDF), NAME to be embroidered, EASTVIEW HOCKEY & YOUR TEAM to: sales @hummingbergbags.com IMPORTANT: Please specify what name you want embroidered on your item and a contact email and phone number in case of questions. A confirmation email will tell you when and where to pick up your order. Make checks payable to EVHA and mail to PO Box 240682, Apple Valley, MN 55124. Do not mail checks to HummingBerg
Click on the PDF for additional details.
Every summer, EVHA sponsors the 5000 shot club to keep kids shooting pucks during the offseason. If completed, the players receive a t-shirt & shorts. Congratulations to the 2013 5000 Shot Club Winnders!
Louis Rogers, Sam Setterlund, Caeden Phelps, Caden Espindabanick, Nicholas Senecal, Mikayla Kelley, Lenny Nunn, Jordan Brothers, Jake Ford, Nick Dolan, Josie Ellingson, Graham Ellingson, Reed Ellingson, Max Leach, Kendra Olson, Ethan Olson, Joey Stillings, Zach Kadlec, Brendan Wilhelm, Michael Schroeder, Sam Reller, Nora Stepan, Sam Ortman, Charlie Ortman, Brady Campbell, Ben Keefer, Beau Weiland, Ellie Poppler, Tanner Kronberg, John Kisch, Colton Bergland, Walker Bergland, Luke Wasilowski, Ethan Hansen, and Max Hansen