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Making a Positive Impact as a 10U Parent

09/08/2021, 9:30am MDT
By Steve Mann

Players at 10U may notice the environment feeling a bit more serious and structured than in previous years, as coaches begin to raise expectations and ramp up the intensity. Players may also recognize bodies getting bigger, faster, stronger and more comfortable on the ice.

It’s not just the players and coaches that are entering this new phase. Youth hockey parents will also face change as they guide their athletes through this next chapter. With change comes opportunity and 10U hockey parents have a tremendous opportunity to help make this year of transition a fun and positive undertaking for all involved.

Changing the Game

John O’Sullivan is the CEO and Founder of the Changing the Game Project, which states as its mission “to ensure that we return youth sports to our children and put the ‘play’ back in ‘play ball.’” The organization aims to provide youth sports parents with the information and resources they need to make sports a healthy and rewarding experience for their children and the whole family.

A former soccer player and coach at every level, O’Sullivan, who is also a best-selling author and parent of two young athletes himself, believes there are two things that are key for all moms and dads to consider, regardless of the sport their children play:

“Number one is to focus on joy and developing the kids’ love of playing,” said O’Sullivan. “That doesn’t mean they don’t work hard or compete, but the best players in the game will all tell you how much they love playing hockey. We have too many 10U players out there having no joy at all because we’re trying to make it overly competitive.”

“As a parent it’s also important to keep your focus on the long-term experience, not just the slice in front of you,” O’Sullivan added. “Realize the journey isn’t six months or a year and think of the end first. When my kid is 22 and may be done playing competitive hockey, what do I want them to have gotten out of the experience? Parents should ask themselves this question and look backwards from there.”

Practical Ways to Make a Positive Impact

According to O’Sullivan, there are some simple, practical ways hockey parents can bring these two notions to life to make a positive impact, particularly during the 10U season:

  • Talk the talk“It’s important to sit down as a family and talk about what you want from the hockey experience, understand why your son or daughter is playing, talk about how our job now is to make sure you do this and love this and reinforce the things you value as a family.”
  • Know your role – “As a parent, especially if you played hockey, you may want to get on the ice with them. Just make sure you determine what you (both) want out of this. They don’t need a coach 24-7, so you have to recognize if they want your help as a coach, or if they just want you to be a supportive dad or mom. Recognize these moments and how special they are.”
  • Make the game fun“My kids play soccer and during this COVID break where they couldn’t play, we made up a game at home, like h-o-r-s-e in basketball. You kick the ball against a wall, and when it bounces back, you get three touches to get it back to the wall, using your chest, thigh or foot and it has to hit the wall on the fly or you get a letter. So, we were having fun playing soccer. We weren’t doing a drill, we were playing together as a family.”
  • Enforce taking a break “You have your coach who is running three practices a week and games, maybe a skating coach or maybe they play another sport. When you add in school your kid is getting dragged everywhere. What happens to some kids is they do way too much, so they never get time off, never get rest. One of the most important things a parent can do is make sure your kid takes time off. Say they’re going to play with friends this weekend. Your child may say they love hockey and it’s all they want to do, but the goal is that it’s all they want to do when they’re 16 or 17 as well. We don’t want them to get to 13 and say I’m done. So, it’s important to pump the brakes a bit when they’re young.”

Of course, similar to all other levels of the sport, following simple “rules of the rink” can make a huge difference. There are things parents should not do to ensure a positive environment. This includes contradicting your child’s coach, yelling at officials or criticizing opposing players or teammates. 

“At this age, hopefully your coach or club is laying down expectations for you as a parent, what’s appropriate and what’s not,” said O’Sullivan. “They may not be as lenient in terms of parent involvement as they were in the younger years. It’s important that parents stay in their lane.”

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Tag(s): ADM Features