My son started soccer very early – he was only 1.5 when I signed him up for his first soccer league! I play soccer myself, so I understand the sport very well and I’ve been able to help him practice along the way.
When he mentioned wanted to play hockey, I was a little apprehensive. I have always watched the sport, but I had never played it myself so I didn’t feel like I had a great understanding of the sport.
My other reason for apprehension was the things I heard about the competitiveness of the sport, particularly stemming from the parents.
He said over and over again that he wanted to play so on the recommendation of a friend regarding a great league to get started in, we signed him up.
I would never want my son to feel pressure from me to win or not have fun playing the sport because of me, so I have been very cautious in our first year of hockey.
It’s been a big learning curve so far with lots of tears on the ice when we started, but now we think we have hit a groove of enjoying the sport and are all happy to be enjoying our son’s first year of hockey!
I have a few tips on what I think has made our son’s first year of hockey a positive experience that I wanted to share with anyone thinking about signing their child up for the sport.
1. Pre-Game Pep Talk
Before each game we try to have a really positive conversation with our son about how fun hockey is going to be today. We gently reinforce a few things about listening to his coaches, but otherwise our pep-talk is all about making sure to have fun, and how we can’t wait to watch him play hockey! The number one goal is all about him having a good time, and we don’t stress him out about scoring goals or being the fastest skater.
2. Rewards for Positive Behavior
For us, the positive behavior that we reward our son for includes things like listening to his coaches, getting up after falling down (instead of crying and asking to come off the ice which is how we started the year!), and any other little positive things we can find during his hour on the ice that we can positively reinforce. If he encourages someone else to get up after falling, or completes a drill that seemed a little tough we think it’s important to recognize it off the ice with a treat (like ice cream!) so he remembers that those small things are important to keep doing.
3. Reminders That This is a Team Sport
I think one of the hardest thing we have had to teach our son in soccer is to work with his teammates, and the same lesson applies to hockey.
I think it’s really hard for kids to recognize that they are playing with teammates, and although it’s been hard to teach the kids passing at this stage of hockey, it’s been important to have conversations AFTER hockey about my son’s teammates. We ask him if he noticed things that some of his teammates did that was great on the ice, or if he was able to talk to other kids on the ice and ask what they talked about. We try to use the work “teammate” as much as possible so he understand that these kids are an important part of his team and that the game is not all about him.
4. The List of Things We DON’T Say
There are certain things we have decided that we won’t say to our son, and we make a very conscience effort to make sure those things don’t leave our lips.
We don’t compare our son’s performance to another player and never say things like “Why didn’t you do work hard like Bobby did?”, or talk about his mistakes or falls. Unless our commentary is constructive, we just don’t say anything that will hurt his feelings or will take the fun out of the sport.
5. After Game Behaviour
The first thing we say to our son after every game is “great job” and we give him a huge hug! His dad takes him to the change room and talks to him about what a great job he did, and once I meet him in the hallway it’s time for a big hug for me and I ask lots of questions about how HE thought things went! We don’t just want to tell him how he’s doing, but instead we want to hear from him how he thought things were going, and what he enjoyed about the hockey game.
For all of you hockey Mom’s out there, please let me know in the comments what you think about my tips, and PLEASE comment with some of your tips for me! I’m still a newbie, so I welcome any feedback on what I’ve been doing, and what you think would be a great way to make sure we are helping our son enjoy hockey!
There is also something really exciting happening right now, and it may affect you and where you live!
This is the second year that Chevrolet is continuing the Good Deeds Cup which is a search to find Peewee teams in Canada that perform good deeds throughout their community.
The top ten finalists have been chosen – is one from your area?
The team that is closest to my hometown this year is the Quinte Red Devils from Quinte West, Ontario.
The Red Devils completed a series of good deeds, challenging one another to support and give back to the community. They were also one of the final cuts from last year’s 13 Finalists who came back this year with a stronger submission and effort!
Voting began For the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup on January 15th, and it ends on January 28th!
To view the teams in contention head to this link here to view the video, and make your selection.
Finalists and the ultimate winner will receive the Good Deeds Cup, will be featured on Sportsnet and received $15,000 towards the charity of their choice.
It has to be very exciting for these finalists! Head over to check out what these teams have done for their community, and vote for favourite!
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Chevrolet and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.