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.
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.”
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:
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.”
Tag(s): ADM Features