And if you have a few minutes, check out these seven tips. They'll help keep you sane and help ensure the game is more fun and rewarding for everyone involved.
1. Hockey is about fun
On the ice, in the dressing room and on the drive home from the rink, hockey should always be fun. Even in the midst of a gut-busting skating drill at 6 a.m., you’ll still see kids with big smiles. Do everything you can to ensure that continues.
2. Development is more important than winning
Equal playing time in younger age groups is a priority for a reason. Ditto for the Gretzky Rule, in which no player is allowed to score more than three goals in the game. It’s about everyone getting better, and sometimes that means losing when going with your best players might have given you a win. It all pays off in the long term.
3. It’s a marathon, not a sprint ('A' hockey vs. house league hockey)
A kid’s future success in hockey and, more importantly, in life, is not decided by whether he or she makes the Atom or Peewee ‘A’ team. Kids develop at different stages, and some kids who choose to not go all-in for hockey early on emerge as stars down the road. And some lifetime House Leaguers are having the time of their lives playing in an over-30 beer league. Hockey has to be compatible with school, music, other sports, or missing a game to go to Grandma’s birthday.
4. Used gear is awesome
Kids grow fast, which means you need larger equipment - especially skates - far more frequently than you may ever have imagined. That just means there’s a whole lot of great used gear out there, so lean on Craigslist.ca, friends with older kids or the soon-to-be-launched VMHA classified section to keep those costs down. No 10-year-old needs a $200 stick, either. Entry-level sticks work just fine - it’s far more important that they’re cut to the right length.
5. VMHA clinics are first-rate
In some cases, our skills clinics are free. And even when we charge for them, they’re a fraction of what comparable outside clinics will cost. If your kid is eager to get better, there’s no better place to make that happen.
6. Skating is (almost) everything
The best preparation for the first year of hockey is skating lessons of some kind, including the very affordable and fun Vancouver Parks Board sessions. Kids who skate and who continue to pay attention to skating instruction, are at a distinct advantage. The game’s just a lot easier when you’re as fast, or as agile, as your rivals.
7. Parents need to stay positive
Kids make mistakes, referees make mistakes, and not all coaches are budding Mike Babcocks. But they all deserve your support, through thick and thin. If you’re about to lose your mind in the stands, go for a walk. We’ll all be better off, and that includes your kid.