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Don’t be “THAT” Parent

Don’t be “THAT” Parent

Written by: U6-U7 Director of Coaching, Jack Neukirch

I recently received an email from a parent asking an innocuous question regarding which age group she should sign her daughter up for the spring season. The last line of the email really got me thinking, “Thank you for your help, sorry to be “THAT” parent.”  I didn’t think of her as ‘THAT’ parent at all.  But I started to think about what “THAT” parent meant. 

I’ve been involved with soccer for over 40 years as a player, parent and coach.  Needless to say, I have seen a lot.  As a player, I saw parents getting into sideline fights.  As a parent, I watched a mom chase an opposing player on the field because they injured (not serious) their kid.  As a coach, I heard a father berating a 12 year old referee because he got a throw in wrong.  None of these situations happened during a World Cup game; they weren’t even championship games.  Most of the “THAT” parent situations I have witnessed, were in lower level league games.  What they did was embarrass their children, themselves and the game.   

A few years back, Skyline introduced me to the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA). PCA is a national non-profit organization with the mission to transform the culture of youth sports so that youth athletes can have  positive, character-building experiences.  Some of the notable National Advisory Board Members for PCA are: Brandi Chastain, Tony Dicicco, and Alexi Lalas.  What I learned from PCA blew me away. Basically, if you are “THAT” parent your child athlete will not be as successful in youth sports.  

In a recent post  by Warren Nye from Mind Over Sports Academy on Facebook, it shares what NHL star Ray Ferraro told a group of parents of one of his teams.  The team was going through a rough patch and parent expectations were at an all time high.  Here’s Ferraro’s highlights…   

  •  Minor hockey is out of control in terms of Parents chasing the dream for their kids instead of kids deciding on their own how passionate they are for it and how bad they want it.
  • In the last 10 years only 21 kids who either played at NSWC or BWC have appeared in at least ONE NHL regular season game. Point is if your banking on your son collecting an NHL pay check to solidify his and your financial future you seriously need to stop and come up with a new plan now.
  • The odds of going pro are extremely low but the odds of having to find a career and a job to pay bills and be a husband and father are extremely high and it’s not dictated by if you played AAA hockey
  • Parents need to enjoy the ride while you have it … your son’s minor hockey days end too quickly and often times people end up regretting what they did not know then and what they ending up missing because they were focused on everything but their kid having fun
  • As a parent who devotes time and money to your son, the only right you have to ask is they give it their best … not how much ice time they get, if they play on the power-play, who is their wing, or defensive partner
  • Don’t pay for power skating, dryland training, skill development and expect your son to score 50 goals-  if you decide to invest in extras do it because your son asked for it and wants to improve and has a smile on his face each and every time … too many parents decide what they want their kids to do instead of their kids asking to do it.
  • 12 month hockey is wrong … organized skills sessions, tryouts, spring hockey is too much and too taxing … kids can shoot pucks, stick handle, play street hockey but they need out of the mental insanity of a hockey rink and need to be engaged in something other than hockey … the time away reinforces the passion to want it
  • Coaches are coaches – we all know the game and think this should be done a certain way … how come we never tell our kids’ math teacher how to teach calculus but we think as parents we have the right to tell a hockey coach how much ice time and with whom and when our kids should play.
  • When you evaluate your kids season, never base it on how many banners they won, what provincial they won, what tourneys they went to and won … ask yourself what improved from September to April, what did he learn or improve upon including non-hockey stuff … evaluate the season besides wins and losses but gains and improvements. Just let them play, learn and develop. Pressure is high enough, no need to make it worse.

Obviously this is hockey related but, it applies with whatever sport your child plays.  We, as parents think that if we provide extra training and are extremely involved, our player will get a college scholarship or make it to the pros.  The percentage that actually make it to that level is so low, most will be disappointed.  What parents should be concerned about is, if their child is having fun.  I would like to leave you all with this last statement to ponder…

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