It’s hockey tryout season! How to survive hockey tryout season? You mean the kids, or hockey parents?!
Whether your child plays soccer, baseball, basketball or football, you’ll be able to relate to the stress and pressure that is competitive tryouts. We spend so much time with minor sports that it becomes a social life for parents too. While the children will gain amazing experiences and life-long friends, hockey parents do as well.
Hockey tryouts have been described by many parents as the most stressful time of the year. Of course parents hope their child will make it to the best team possible. Kids feel the pressure to perform throughout the season, but especially during tryouts.
So how do parents and kids survive hockey tryout season? Here are some ways to survive hockey tryout season.
How to Survive Hockey Tryout Season
Remember that coaches are doing their best
Good coaches don’t like tryouts either. Good coaches do the best job they can in assessing the players, and forming a team. Deciding on those last few players are probably the toughest decisions for coaches. I doubt they take any pleasure in cutting players, especially kids they’ve coached before. While a coach may feel excited to tell a child that he’s moving up a level, he/she sure as heck doesn’t enjoy breaking the news to a child that he’s been cut.
If you have an issue with a coach’s decision, don’t call in the heat of anger. Wait 24 hours before calling or emailing and set up a time to chat in person. Start off the conversation with a positive tone – not ready to start a fight!
Running a youth hockey team takes a lot of effort for these parents who volunteer their time. When you’re talking 70 games and even more practices, coaches spend hours upon hours of time instructing YOUR child. I have huge respect for coaches who volunteer their time, and are essentially an important role in your child’s development and childhood.
How you deal with hockey tryouts will leave lasting impressions on your children, and they will see how you react to the process. If you’re anxious and stressed, your children will feel the same. If you’re positive and focus on trying your best and having fun, your child will echo that sentiment.
Try not to compare your kid to other kids, especially in front of the child! It can cause a negative effect on your child’s confidence.
The last thing you want to do is get a reputation as the “trouble maker hockey parent.” According to coaches in older kids’ levels, one of the factors they consider is the parents and family life.
The tryout process is long and stressful, so be positive and encourage your child to do his/her best. As a parent, you can’t “make” your child be amazing at hockey, or anything else for that matter. You can only support and nurture his/her true potential.
How you deal with disappointment is also a teachable moment as a parent’s role. Unfortunately, dealing with disappointment is a lesson kids will eventually have to learn. As parents, it’s important to help them process and deal with disappointment. If you’re proud of whatever team your child makes, you’re showing that you’re supportive.
Don’t add pressure
It’s no surprise that many kids will end up quitting hockey because of the immense pressure from parents and coaches, to the point where playing isn’t fun anymore. While parents think they’re doing a favour by critiquing their child, it may cause them to eventually hate the game.
Instead of offering words of criticism, ask your child how he felt about the tryout, practice or game. Acknowledge his/her efforts and offer positive feedback. Tell them how proud you are of them – no matter what the outcome.
Have you heard this before? “My kid should be playing AA” or “my kid is better than half the guys in AAA.” The truth is, your child may not be ready to play a higher level.
Of course we all think our kids are the best! We’re their parents, after all! A parent can’t objectively evaluate their own child’s performance most of the time. Some parents may be disillusioned about their children’s level of skill, and unfortunately, that’s detrimental to their game.
Don’t be that parent who is trying to live through their child’s successes in order to feel good about themselves. Remember that this is your child’s turn now, and no matter what level, it’s his/her experience, not yours.
Don’t worry about status
The biggest misconception in hockey is that if your child isn’t playing AAA, he/she isn’t going anywhere. Some hockey coaches say kids playing AAA in Minor Bantam or lower is no better than AA.
Many parents put too much emphasis on the number of letters, and it’s disheartening that some put status above everything else. These players are children. The fact is, kids will develop at different ages and stages. They are still young and all kids need at those ages is ice time and developing skills.
In truth, the 8-year-old superstar at Novice may fade out by Peewee. The kid who makes the AAA may end up sitting on the bench most of the time. For kids who want to pursue serious competitive hockey with the potential for professional, Major Bantam and Minor Midget is where this journey will begin. So if you’re stressing out over your child making Novice AAA, it’s time to re-evaluate!
Remember it’s a game
Playing youth sports for kids is as a social experience as it is a competition. The kids want to win, of course! But what they truly want is simple – to play hockey and have fun! That’s what it all comes down to in their eyes – not the politics or how many goals they scored. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the game, parents often need this reminder.
Let’s put things in perspective. Over 98 percent of the kids playing hockey won’t ever play college or professional hockey. Let that sink in for a minute.
There is nothing you as a parent can do to turn your child into a hockey superstar. You can give your child all the tools needed to help improve his skill and game, but then it’s up to him/her to figure out what to do with it.
If the love for the game isn’t there, you can’t force anything. All you can do as a parent is be supportive of your child, and allow your child to get out there and do his best and have fun.