Being a hockey parent
by Derek O'Brien|30 OCT 2020
While much of the Player Development Guide is connected to what happens on the ice or in the gym, some parts, some sections are concerned with the day-to-day life of a player. There is a section aimed specifically at Parenting, while two others – Nutrition & Hydration and Well-Being & Lifestyle – start in the home as well.

The Parenting section provides materials for parents on what best to do as well as what not to do to maximize their children’s enjoyment in the sport. The main points are broken down in the Be a Great Hockey Parent download, which emphasizes positive reinforcement and discourages negative pressure.

Asked what parents should take away from this section, IIHF Membership Development Manager Aku Nieminen said: “The main point is for them to give their children opportunities to gain positive experiences through sports, not necessarily that their children would become high-performance athletes.” 

The Ten Golden Rules download comes from the Standards and Behaviour section, which outlines a basic code of conduct for hockey parents at the rink and at home. In the Reasons for Playing Hockey download, parents are reminded of the reasons children like playing hockey, and also reasons why they quit. 

In all, there are 13 downloads in the Parenting section, some of which are geared at specific age groups: Pre-School Children, Beginner (U10), Intermediate (U14) and Advanced (U18). Others include:  
While Nutrition and Hydration can be taught by hockey coaches and fitness trainers, it is a benefit to all children – not just hockey players or other athletes – to learn proper eating habits at an early age at home. 

“Many of the best principles would apply to many sports,” said Nieminen, noting that the meal plans were not tailor-made for hockey players. “The main point is to give general guidance on eating habits and to tackle some of the challenges in that area.”

Helpful downloads include Well-Balanced Meals, Healthy Eating Models, Calorie Intake, Macro & Micronutrients, Food Timing and Hydration, which all take into consideration hockey seasons and schedules at different age groups. 

There is also a download for an Example Shopping List, where an organized list of easy-to-find food items for healthy meals and snacks can be found, and another with a more detailed list of Examples of Healthy Snacks. It is emphasized throughout the Nutrition & Hydration section that generally meals prepared at home are healthier and more economical than eating out. 

Of course, proper nutrition is an important healthy habit to develop at an early age. The Well-Being & Lifestyle section spreads out into a wider range of habits at home, with the team, at school or work and when spending time with friends, taking into account physical, emotional, psychological and social factors. 

“We wanted to include this as we know that there are challenges with gaming, mobile phones, passiveness, et cetera,” Nieminen said about the Well-Being & Lifestyle section. “Often the mental side is completely forgotten and we wanted to make sure we do not make that mistake.”

There are downloads on General Info and specifically for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced stages.  There is also a Mental Skills Training download, which is a practical tool for coaches on how to get players into the best frame of mind. 

Find the IIHF Development Hub in the website menu or by entering in your browser.