Travel to practices, games and tournaments is a significant part of participation in any youth sport. USA Hockey requires all local programs and their teams have a travel policy that is published and provided to all players, parents, coaches, and other adults traveling with the team to ensure players' off-ice safety.
Travel to and from sporting events can place players in potential situations for abuse and misconduct, particularly during overnight stays when players are in less familiar environments. Parents and coaches should be aware of these risks at all times and put in place policies and guidelines for local travel as well as out of town events.
Here are ten important travel tips from USA Hockey’s SafeSport policy that can make your youth hockey experience safe and enjoyable.
1. Make parents responsible for travel and lodging arrangements if possible.
2. No adult should be alone at any time with an unrelated minor. If a coach or volunteer must assist with travel, drop offs and pick-ups should be coordinated in groups.
3. Anyone providing team travel assistance should be screened and possess a valid driver's licenses and insurance.
4. Written permission should be obtained in advance for a player to travel with a coach, volunteer or another team parent. It is strongly recommended that organizations and teams incorporate a standardized parent consent form for any minor participant that will travel without his or her parents.
5. No coach or chaperone shall be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while performing their chaperone/coaching duties.
6. If disciplinary action against a player is required while the player is traveling without his/her parents, reasonable attempts to notify the player’s parents will be made before any action is taken.
7. Travel itineraries including a list of all adult personnel and contact information shall be provided to parents, especially for travel involving overnight stays. Adequate adult chaperone supervision should be provided at all times (recommend one adult per five to eight players). Room monitoring and curfew checks should be made by at least two screened adults.
8. Regardless of gender, a coach shall not share a room with a single player unless the coach is a parent or guardian of that player.
9. No individual meetings shall take place in hotel sleeping rooms. Any player meetings, especially one-on-one meetings, should occur in public areas.
10. Players shall be encouraged to make “check in” calls to their parents.
By being aware of, and enforcing these simple travel rules, we can take a giant step towards limiting any occurrences of abuse during a time when our young athletes face potential risks.
For complete travel policies, check out the USA Hockey SafeSport handbook.