Hockey is an emotional sport. Players, parents and coaches invest a tremendous amount of energy and resources in the sport. We outlined the role of the coach with development in a prior article. All persons, coaches, parents and players because of the emotional, financial and often physical investment they make in the sport sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. When individuals loose their cool they risk their investment in the sport. There are many ways the different participants loose their cool. There are in game situations and out of game situations. In game situations are when players committing penalties and hurting their teams, coaches committing penalties, using profanity or yelling at other coaches or referees or parents who scream at referees, players and coaches. Out of game situations are parents confronting coaches or vice versa, coaches confronting players and parents confronting player and other parents. Sometimes it gets so bad that parents confront other players on their team or other teams.
The fundamental disconnect in many of these confrontations is respect. When parents don’t respect coaches, parents, or players or when coaches don’t respect parents, players or referees or when players don’t respect each other, coaches, parents or referees. What are the reasons for most hockey disagreements and besides using respect, common sense and discretion when handling difficult hockey people what else can be done to create win win situations?
Hockey disagreements between players, referees, coaches and parents usually fall in the following categories:
1) Unhappiness about development of player or how a player is being developed (as perceived by parent or coach).
2) Unhappiness in outcome of a game.
3) Unhappiness in players role in game (playing time, position, playing lines, etc..).
What can be done to create win win situations?
1) Coaches must do a better job of explanation of the process of development and get buy in from parents at the beginning of season. As the season progresses there should be timely feedback and communication with parents so buy in for the process is still there. Often due to the intensity of the season it is difficult for this communication to occur and a disconnect is created.
2) Parents must ask the difficult questions prior to selecting the team or do their due diligence. Often coaches don’t relate how important winning is to them or discuss their methodology. Many coaches are paid for winning and their goals are disconnected from parents who want their kids to develop.
3) Coaches must choose players for teams they belong in and don’t “sell false hopes.” Families must be told of player roles ahead of time if the roles are decided ahead of season. If a player is chosen for a team there is a responsibility of the player to work hard and the families to support the coach. It is the responsibility of the coach to communicate to the families that put their trust in him/her.
4) I recommend reading the article development and the coach and watching the video. Often coaches and hockey programs lose sight of what is truly important in youth hockey. It is the youth. Winning at all cost and making winning decisions but sacrificing team development is a losing strategy. Coaches should be in the youth hockey business for the right reasons.
5) Parents should trust the coaches they have. Coaches have been trained to teach players and develop hockey players. Trust them to do the right things. Timely questions that are open ended that engage coaches to explain are better then close ended questions that direct coaches. How would you like it if somebody kept telling you how to do your job? Not so much fun. Coaches don’t make that much money and they do it for the love of the game and the kids.
Although it is often said respect is critical.
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