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The Hockey Parent Challenge

By Aaron Paitich, Touchpoint Media, 10/20/14, 12:00PM CDT


Pop quiz! Minnesota Hockey and Positive Coaching Alliance have teamed up to test your hockey parenting and coaching skills.

Tally your correct answers and receive your grade at the end of the test.

Here we go!

A parent has been yelling instructions from the stands to the coaches, officials and the players. What do you do?

A. Ask them if they want to coach.

B. Pull them aside for a private conversation. Let them know that type of behavior has a negative impact on everyone involved and will not be tolerated at the rink.

C. Ignore them.


Answer: B. Ideally, this should be addressed before the season begins. Teams should lay out ground rules that make it clear to parents this type of behavior is unacceptable. Then, it is up to the parents to hold each other to the rules.

What’s more important – games or practices?

A. Practices.

B. Games.

C. Both are equally as important.


Answer: A. Practice? We’re talking about practice? Yes! Practice is where skills are developed. Games are the rewards for the players.

If you disagree with the coach, how do you communicate that with your child?

A. Confront the coach in front of the entire team to make sure everyone knows you mean business.

B. Talk about it at the dinner table.

C. On the way to practice or a game, tell your child why you respectfully disagree with the coach.

D. Don’t.


Answer: D. Don’t undermine the coach in front of your child – it sets a bad example. Let the coaches coach. If you have a serious problem, respectfully ask the coach to discuss the issue privately.

On the car ride home after games, what do you talk to your child about?

A. Discuss the game from beginning to end. What went right? What went wrong?

B. Dissect one particular moment or play and use it as a teaching lesson.

C. Pizza, school, baseball – whatever your kid wants to talk about.

D. Talk about the next game and set new goals.


Answer: C. After telling them how much you enjoyed watching them play, there’s no need to bring the game up unless your child wants to talk about it. They know whether they played well or poorly. Oftentimes, they just want to move on and focus on something else.

When you're watching the game, how should you behave?

A. Cheer loud and often. Kids want to hear mom and dad supporting them from the stands as much as possible.

B. Relax and enjoy the game.

C. Give them tips and advice from the stands or behind the glass.

D. Don’t go to the games.


Answer: B. Being overly vocal in the stands – positively or negatively – adds stress to the player and can be embarrassing. Cheering for a goal or a good play is just fine, but there’s no need to go over the top. Another option to consider is targeted cheering. Rather than cheer for goals, cheer for behaviors or characteristics you value. For example: if you value "being a good teammate," publicly cheer when a player offers encouragement to a teammate.

How does a player improve?

A. Playing year-round.

B. With the best skates and stick.

C. Small-area games, puck touches and repetitions in a fun environment.

D. Attending countless hockey camps and showcases.


Answer: C. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as too much hockey. Players develop at their own pace. The key to development is teaching them the proper fundamentals while instilling a love of the game. Small-area games, puck touches and other fun skill work are remarkably beneficial to your player's improvement. 

How do you know if your player is enjoying their hockey experience?

A. Smiles, excitement and friendships.

B. Winning.

C. Getting offered a chance at an elite program, camp or showcase.

D. If they’re scoring goals.


Answer: A. Nothing beats the look of your child having fun. That's how you're going to know they are enjoying hockey. If they dread going to practice, feel pressured/stress before games or appear down in other areas of their life, the joy has been taken out of the sport for them.

The officiating has been atrocious all game. The players are commenting on the officiating on the bench, between periods and after the game. What should you do?

A. Tell them they are not allowed to talk about the officiating.

B. Tell them you’ll talk to the officials for them.

C. Tell them it’s all the officials’ fault, not the team’s fault.

D. Talk about each bad call they made and all the what-if scenarios that could have changed the momentum of the game.


Answer: A. Encouraging talk about officiating is bad news. It should not be allowed. Blaming the officials shows a lack of accountability. Teach them to keep battling and working hard. Officials are people, too. They will make mistakes, just like you.

What do players want to get out of hockey?

A. Trophies.

B. Fun.

C. A chance to improve.

D. A chance to make new friends.


Answer: B, C, D. Trophies are great, but they aren’t the main reason kids want to play. They want to have fun with their friends and hopefully improve along the way.

What does your player mean when they say "sauce?"

A. They're ready for some spaghetti.

B. There’s some on your face.

C. When the passer elevates the puck off the ice to their teammate and the puck spins – like a saucer – in mid-air.

D. Their equipment needs to be washed.


Answer: C. Brush up on your hockey-speak with some sauce. A well-executed saucer pass is a delicious way to move the puck through traffic when opposing players’ sticks are blocking the passing lanes.


0-3: Fail. Time to rethink your approach. We know you care deeply and want them to succeed, and we want to help make sure that message comes through in a positive, productive and fun way for all. Set some goals for yourself this season. Your player(s) will appreciate it!

4-7: Honorable Mention. Nice work, but there are some areas we can improve on.

8-10: All-Star! Keep up the positive parenting and coaching. Enjoy the ride!


Thank you for taking the time to complete this quiz.  We hope you and your player(s) have a safe and positive season!

Minnesota Hockey and Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) have partnered together to promote a positive experience for all youth hockey players in Minnesota.  Minnesota Hockey will provide up to 20 sportsmanship grants worth $500 each to help local youth hockey associations educate their coaches, parents and athletes by hosting PCA workshops in their community.

Visit Positive Coaching Alliance online at

Follow the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Minnesota chapter and the national chapter on Twitter at @PCA_Minnesota and @PositiveCoachUS.

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