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Dealing with Challenging Hockey Parents

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Expect parents of hockey players to be biased about their child’s abilities and expectations. Their perception versus reality will often not match yours. Also, expect some parents to put themselves above the team: They feel they are paying to have their kid there; they can do as they please, including yell at the referees or at their kid.

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Your first step in dealing with challenging parents is to make abundantly clear to all parents your goals, rules, and consequences at the start of the season. Parents must know that your number one rule is that the kids come first, and so all players and the team are your primary concerns. Parents must also know that if they are abusive to officials, kids, or other parents, they will be banned from attending practices or games for the remainder of the season.

Your second step is patience and diplomacy as you confront issues. In doing so, apply the rule that issues are never discussed until emotions are in check. That could mean 48 hours later. It’s your call. Then you, or whomever you have assigned to help you with parent communication, can listen to the person raising the issue and consider with them how the issue meets the team goals and rules. Then take any proposed solutions under advisement, if appropriate, and provide an answer in short order. If you can establish a parent sounding board, that person can help to defuse issues with parents before they even get to you. Just make sure you are all on the same page regarding team priorities.


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