Get to know the game.
While hockey shares certain elements with lacrosse and soccer, it also has several rules and features completely unique to itself. Even experienced hockey players and coaches can get confused sometimes. Don’t hesitate to run some questions by coaches, refs, and other parents to learn the game.
Skate, skate, skate.
One of hockey’s unique features is the ice playing surface, called a rink. Experienced hockey players can skate forward and backward, turn left and right, and stop on a dime. Look up open ice times at your local rink, or , if your climate allows, find outdoor rinks to skate on in the winter. Better yet, take the whole family to the rink. Great memories can be made skating at the local “barn” or backyard pond!
Play other sports too.
Encourage your child to hang up the skates once in a while to try other sports and avoid hockey fatigue. Certain hockey skills—like stick handling, quick reactions, and conditioning—can be practiced by playing lacrosse, baseball, and soccer. Hockey coaches love multi-sport athletes for the creativity and skills they bring to the game.
Become familiar with your child’s coach.
At the youth levels, your child’s coach will likely be a parent volunteer. Introduce yourself to the coach and get to know his or her coaching philosophies. Then communicate anything you feel he or she should know about your child early in the season. A good coach will be open and honest about goals, expectations, and methods. Don’t forget to ask the coach if there is anything you can help with!
Be positive and respectful.
Unless otherwise appointed, your job at the rink is to support and cheer for your kid. Focus on the positives as he or she learns the game and avoid yelling instructions from the bleachers.
Focus on life skills, not scholarships.
Hockey, like any other sport, is not a financial plan for college. Fewer than 1 percent of high school athletes receive athletic scholarships and even fewer go on to play professional sports. Encourage your child to focus on the valuable lessons they can learn from hockey like how to handle winning and losing, how to manage relationships with coaches and teammates, and the benefits of being active. Above all, focus on having fun!
Pick the right program for your child.
There are many hockey programs to choose from that vary in cost, time commitment, and competition level. Choose a program that suits your child’s interests and skill levels. [See: “Ways to Play”]