Hockey Season Starts!

Your season has begun! You started off with a parent orientation meeting. Laid out what your plans were for the season. What expectations that you have for the players, parents and your coaching staff. Get everyone to buy-off that this is going to work. The team practices are going well, everyone is working hard. The parents are enjoying being around each other and how the teammates are getting along. Players are having fun with each other. Like the start of most season’s, the hope and enthusiasm is high.

First tournament rolls around. Coach is feeling that some additional communications is needed to send to the parents. Reminder of the team rules for what time to show up for the games, team dress code and what the plan for this first 3 to 4 games are. This is the first action that the players, coaches and even the parents will see. Expectations, coach has communicated that this is the first weekend action – look for the following:

  • Playing time will be balanced. Need to see which players will react to which situations better.
  • Goalies: Game 1 (split it down the middle), Game 2 and Game 3 – each will get complete game. Game 4 – will depend on performance.
  • Speciality situations. Power play – will be trying different combinations throughout the weekend. Same for penalty kill. Just not sure how often this is going to happen. So, be prepared to see some different combinations.
  • Simply put – the coaches is using this weekend to determine what they have, what they need to work on and to work out any kinks. Parents – expect the same. This is not about winning at all cost, this is the first weekend games.

Outcome, team finishes third out of four teams. Lost just one game. Pretty good showing for their first weekend playing. Coach now has a better idea of what has to be worked on in practice. What is better he now knows some definite combinations that work well together. He walks away from the weekend very pleased!

Until some emails and phone calls come in from one of the parents. Parents are totally unhappy with the situation with their son. The team could have easily been in the championship game, if their son would have played in goal more. He is the best goalie. Coach remains them of the expectations of the weekend – it was not about winning at all cost – this is the first weekend and we have a long season ahead of us. Parents decided to harp on the assistant coach about the situation. Assistant coach reminds them of the weekend plans and expectations. Volunteer assistant coach decides that his weekends are not worth putting up with upset parents – gives head coach his notice.

I must let the cat out of the bag; this team is a mite team. Yes, the wee little ones.

I have been coaching for over 20 years, I have seen this at every age group. I have seen it not only in hockey, but in all sports. Why do parents make this so difficult? Ice hockey coaches have about 17 to 20 players to worry about. Adding 30 – 40 some parents to the mix; just is not much fun. As a coach, I have had to have some very difficult sitdowns with parents. Some of those sitdowns have gone very well. The parents just needed to be reminded that this is about the team. I care deeply for every player I have ever coached. Other discussions went terrible – the parents want little Johnny to be the star attraction. Little Johnny maybe good, but don’t for a minute think that he is going to be the next Wayne Gretzky or Patrick Roy. I always fall back onto the initial parent orientation meeting and the handouts I provided – please decide to follow those guidelines or leave the team.

Those are very tough decisions that parents and coaches must make. Parents only want the best for their kids. Coaches only want the best for the team. No one wants the complete season to be an unhappy experience. I want all of my players to improve in the sport, in school and in life. Sports is much more than the game (just winning) and making it professionally. It is about teamwork, leadership and life lessons that you get to experience while playing a game.