Ten Things You Want Kids to Say about Their Hockey Playing Experience

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When you get caught up in day-to-day coaching and the hectic pace of things going on, you may find it a challenge to keep a broader picture in perspective, such as where does playing minor hockey fit in the broad scheme of things for your players?

You owe it to yourself and your players to keep hockey and life in perspective, because your brief encounter is but one of thousands along the road of life — both theirs and yours. Yet that encounter can have a profound impact, especially on the kids. Here are ten statements from former minor hockey players that you can keep in your kit bag and refer to periodically to help you keep an eye on the end game.

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“I love hockey”

You can give players a lasting love of the game. Teach them good basic hockey skills, help them appreciate a strong sense of team play, and invoke standards for sportsmanship. Do those three things, and you’ll leave players with a positive experience that will keep them coming back to the game again and again.

“Some of my minor hockey teammates are still my best friends”

You can give players an opportunity to make lasting friendships. Give players the opportunity to learn each other’s names and outside interests; give them opportunities to support and count on each other as teammates. That way, you give them a chance to become good friends.

“Hockey taught me how far I can go with a little hard work”

You can help instill a positive work ethic. Challenge players, set expectations, and reward accomplishments for them as individuals. Those things help them learn the value and pleasure of hard work.

“A bit of teamwork can accomplish so much”

You can help players learn the value of cooperation, trust, and interdependence. Cultivate an atmosphere of working together and helping each other out, showing examples of how much more can be accomplished with a little help from a friend.

“Coach believed in me so much, I had to start believing in myself”

You can go a long way toward giving players self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. Give players repeated opportunities to achieve — even little things — and acknowledge their achievements. Reinforce and remind them of what they do well and what is good and unique about them.

“I still play, and I’m 73”

You can help players develop an appreciation for a healthy, active lifestyle. Make fitness and activity feel good. Help players enjoy the freedom of movement, the competency of having strength, and the pleasure of physical capability.

“There’s nothing like swapping stories with a group of hockey players”

You can give players a ready source of entertainment and sense of belonging wherever they go. Encourage locker-room banter and storytelling. Bring in guest hockey players to tell hockey stories. Create experiences that give players their own stories.

“Coach made us think and break out of the mold, which helped me get where I am today”

You can give players the freedom to develop independent thought and self-sufficiency. Encourage analytical thinking — and then trying and failing and learning from it. Support determination and commitment, which helps players stand on their own two feet.

“Hockey taught me that discipline is not a bad word”

You can give players a healthy respect for rules and authority. Give them opportunities to determine their own rules and to be their own authority when no one is looking. Provide rules and consequences and explain the advantages of having both. Help them set behavioral expectations for themselves and objectively discuss any failures to meet them. Teach players how respect is a two-way street.

“I learned what it means to have passion for what I’m doing, and it’s made my life full and exciting”

You can help players to develop a zest for life. Help players to experience passion — for how they play, how they practice, how they help their teammates, and how they are as people on the ice and away from the rink. Encourage them to explore their passions no matter how temporary.


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