District playoffs are heating up and that means Minnesota Hockey Regional and State Tournaments are just around the corner. Whether it’s a road trip up to Silver Bay, an overnight in Roseau or a weekend in the Twin Cities, tournaments can make up some of the most memorable moments for kids.
Things can get a little hectic on the ice, in the hotel room, at the local skate shop or nearby restaurants between games – unless you’re prepared. A little planning and positivity can help kids, parents and coaches avoid any stress and enjoy the ride.
Double-check your equipment. Don’t forget anything. Bring both jerseys and extra sticks if you have them. If necessary, try to get your skates sharpened beforehand for a couple reasons: 1. Save time and get it out of the way. 2. Some skate sharpeners might not do the job the same way as your local skate shop. Keep it consistent so your kid’s not slipping and sliding and trying to get used to new edges during warmups.
Know where you’re headed. This is a given, but sometimes it can be easy to hit the road with everything packed except a set of directions. Give yourself some extra travel time in case of bad weather, traffic or other delays. It’s never a good feeling having to rush your kid into the rink with the ice resurfacer making the final lap.
Manage your mental game. Being excited and focused for tournament games is good. Feeling really nervous and pressured is not. Help your kid set realistic expectation and goals for the tournament prior to the first game. Make sure their focus is on how they need to play in order to achieve them, instead of just the outcome. Ideally, a player wants to be focused, alert and energized to help his/her team find success on the ice.
Be positive. It’s part of a winning attitude, on and off the ice. Win or lose, players’ positive energy and outlook will reflect on teammates, coaches and parents. It’s an important trait to develop and it will pay off on the ice, in the classroom, and ultimately, in the workforce and beyond. This is just one of the many life lessons that can be learned by playing youth hockey in Minnesota.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Tournaments can throw a wrench into your routines. Sometimes, that means meal improvisation. Especially if teams are playing more than one game per day, those calories and nutrients need to be replenished. We recommend stocking up on healthy snacks that can maintain and boost energy on the go.
Set up some team-bonding activities. Remember, you’re all in this together as a team. Organize a pasta dinner prior to the tournament. Between games? Head to the nearby bowling alley to kill some time and have some fun. If you’re spending the weekend together, head to the movies at night, hang out by the hotel pool or reserve a rec room for the kids to play games or watch the Minnesota Wild on TV.
Downtime is important. Amidst all the games, bowling and bracket watching, don’t forget about sleep. The kids might want to stay up late with all the excitement, but a proper rest will help keep performance and attitude at high levels throughout the tournament.
HAVE FUN! This is what it’s all about! Tournaments provide some of the greatest hockey memories. Just ask Minnesota Wild defenseman and Elk River Youth Hockey Association product Nate Prosser.
“I remember road trips growing up with youth tournaments, and specifically the state tournament. We took third place that year,” Prosser says. “Those experiences with your city and your friends that you grow up with and you’re playing with everyday. It’s pretty special. There’s nothing like it.”