This is not an article on parents who get excited about participation trophies. This is an article on players and parents that too many times people do not want to talk about.
Yesterday I spent time with a friend of mine and his son who is a Major Junior player, and will likely be NHL draft pick in a few weeks. A very talented player who should have very long NHL career.
During that time I watched and observed how the family interacted before, during and after the on ice session. I also had the chance to watch the players I have heard of, but do not know personally. How they interact with their family, coaches and others at the arena.
There are some very big differences between the very high level players and the players just looking to play on the high level team.
I asked my friend this one question; “What do you think is the most important role you play in your son’s career?”
“I am only here to support what he wants to do with his life. It is not my dream for him to play in the NHL, its his dream. I never initiate a hockey conversation about his game, practice or training. If he wants to talk then I give him my opinions, but I always remember that this is his life not mine.”
How many of you parents can give the same answer? Do your actions support your statements?
Yesterday I also watched more than one parent yelling from the stands, trying to coach the player as he came off the ice, and expressing disappointment at every mistake. I see parents walk up to the coaches uninvited to offer their opinions. I hear parents talking bad about organizations, linemates, and the system of how players are being be chosen for certain roles.
This second group of parents are what I like to call the “trophy parents”..
The players accomplishments are the trophy’s that these types of parents carry above their heads around every rink. It’s this parental bragging competition with other parents. It’s as though someone created some type of competition between parents without a lot of prents being aware that they had to compete, and its not just in hockey.
We all see these parents. We know who they are. Most of us avoid them. Most teams avoid them once they are identified.
Yesterday I also asked one of these parents in competition the same question; “What do you think is the most important role you play in your son career?”
“I need to arrange for the best camps, and that I hire the best trainers. I make sure I take the time off from work to get things done. I call the coaches, and I research what teams I might be able to get a tryout arranged.”
Now go back and read the first parent answer.
In the first answer every statement surrounds supporting “him”. In the second answer, not once did the parent mention “him”.
I recorded these answers on my phone so I did not make mistakes quoting anyone. Not only is the content of the answer different, but the tone of each parent is dramatically different. One is relaxed and calm, one is very aggressive or anxious.
After I spoke to the parents, I spoke to the players and ask “What role does your family play in your hockey career?”
High level NHL prospect said;
“My family is always there for me. Whether I have a good or bad game, everything remains the same. They know I don’t need to be told how I played, and they give me my space. The only time we talk about hockey when I am home is if we are watching a game together or I need to vent. If I had to talk about every practice or game with my family I would quit playing. That’s my coaches job, and I leave him at the rink.”
Prospect player say;
“My mom and dad do it all for me. They wants me to make the NHL. Thet get me the best of everything. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. I hope I can make them prioud one day.”
Which parent are you? Which parent do you want to be? How would you and your son answer these questions?
Lots of time as an adviser, parents have difficulty adjusting to just being a parent. It is important to remember that parents are not suppossed to know everything or everyone. Players didnt start playing because they wanted to play in the NHL. They started playing because it was fun and a great way to grow up learning life lessons.
Those same parents, once adjusted to just being parents again, start to enjoy the game as their child’s greatest fan. The pressure is removed and the ability to move up or forward is based upon results, not hope. In the end, we are developing people, not hockey players. A little more focus on that, and the hockey will take care of itself.
As they say, water finds its own level.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser