Player Guidance: Hockey Parent CliffsNotes
Recently, while cleaning out my car, I came across a list that I'd written for my oldest son back in March of 2016.
Please ignore the fact that this was still in my car after all of this time -- pushing 5 years now.
Actually, it's pretty peculiar considering I've had 3 cars since March of 2016 -- AAA hockey will do that.
For real, I should do a post on how to most efficiently change a tire on the side of the highway, in the snow, while hockey equipment is impeding access to the spare tire, all while keeping the kids warm and a safe distance away, and still make it to the next game in time as if we never had any issues on the way there.
Been there, done that.
But, clearly, when trading in a car, I've just been taking the mess from one glove compartment and transferring it to the next. I feel shame.
Based on that date, and the contents of the list, I can only assume that it was for him to read on the way to a tryout...his first tryout for an elite AAA team following his first and only season of town level travel hockey.
For added perspective, this was written for a 7-year old.
But, reading it again now, I'm kind of patting myself on the back for how well the advice holds up considering how admittedly wet behind the ears I was back then.
It still holds up!
I'm also pretty proud of the fact that, even back then, I wasn't guilty of (un)coaching my kids.
- Pay attention to the coaches. Don't move around or play with a puck while waiting to do your drill. Be ready for the whistle.
- During the drill -- worry about YOU. Don't be looking around at what the other kids are doing. You just need to do your best.
- Attitude. Don't get upset if you lose a race, fall down, or take a bad shot. Just keep going as fast as you can and try again on the next drill.
- Steady head -- look where you want to go and go there as fast as you can. Always. No floppy head.
- Attack the puck. Don't be afraid to bump into people to get it.
- Go fast. The coaches want the kids that try their hardest.
Now, since those days, I've learned that you can only really laser focus a kid in on one (or maybe two) things at a time.
I mean, with my 5-year-old, whenever I think I have something to help guide him back on track...it leads to another...and then another...and then another.
The list is, well, it's at least 30 bullet points long.
Soooo much to work on.
But resist going on and on and on with your advice.
It doesn't help and it doesn't work.Focus on one thing.
Whatever the biggest issue of the moment is.
Like, taking the first item on this old list, we used to have an issue where my kids would constantly stick handle in-place while standing in line. Then the whistle would blow, they'd look up, and have absolutely no idea what they were supposed to be doing.
Every. Single. Time.
We hammered that home and, thankfully, I can't remember the last time I had to revisit that one.
Currently, with my youngest, a mite, my one pre-game instruction is to "get the puck".
That's it -- get the puck.
Simple, right? But it works!
His last two games, comparatively-speaking, he was a puck seeking missile.
On the downside, he was even trying to take it from teammates so, in time, we'll have to narrow in on that.
One thing at a time.
With my middle son, a squirt, the single instruction on the way to the rink these days is to "stop reaching".
Instead of taking an additional stride, just within the past month, he's developed this thing where he just pokes and hopes from afar. Throws him horribly off balance too so, even if he does successfully poke check the puck away -- a rare occurance -- he's put himself in such an awkward position that he can't retrieve the loose puck. It's a bad habit.
With my oldest, a peewee, it's "finish your shifts" as he's developed a lazy tendancy to relax the moment he's moved the puck up to the forwards as if his job is complete. Same deal, bad habit.
Once they've eliminated these issues from their game, I'll move on to the next single thing to nudge them about before they take the ice.
In my mind, I've already got them queued up -- "stay on your feet" for the mite, "never turn your back to the puck" for the squirt, and "shoot to score" for the peewee.
The key, really, to help your child progress is to work on little things, one at a time.
An endless list of things to "work on", all at once, never works.
Like I said, if I've learned anything since my original list above, it's that six things are too many. Way too many.
One day at a time.
One step at a time.
Your internal list of things for them to work on that you notice as a parent will get shorter and shorter in no time.
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Agree? Disagree? Let me know -- I love the feedback from all angles!