The best place to get advice is from those who have experienced it before.
During the lead up to last November's Try Hockey For Free Day, presented by SportsEngine, USA Hockey asked asked for experienced hockey parents to pass along some advice for those whose kids tried hockey for the first time.
We've picked out a handful of responses to check out below.
Have more advice to pass along? Share your words of wisdom with new hockey families here.
These past 10 years of hockey with my son have been the best years. Wouldn’t change a thing. The lessons they have learned, the ups and downs, friendships made, bonds for life, awesome family, a great way to prepare them for life!!
Be prepared to meet lifelong friends, have amazing experiences and make tons of memories!
After each time on the ice, our first question is always, “Did you have fun?”
Be supportive but don’t hover. Let them make new friends. Teach them to tie their own laces ASAP.
My son has been playing since he was 3, he will be 19 in three months and is playing in the NAHL now. It has been the best time of our lives. There will come a day when they don’t need you to drive them to practice. Take a lot of pictures and videos, hang out with other parents and remember there is no family like HOCKEY FAMILY!!! It will be the best time of your life!!!
-Rachel Kitterman Villegas
Air out their equipment. You have no idea how important this is but you soon will if you don’t.
Don’t get caught up on what team your kid makes. Make sure they’re having fun – that’s what it’s all about. Enjoy every moment!!
-Jackie Gootee Antos
The hockey community and culture is like no other in sports, in my opinion. Give plenty of praise and encouragement and watch your children grow. Welcome to the family.
Let them try every position…even goalie!
-Michele Muscat Mostek
Falling down means they are trying a new skill. Hot chocolate, cookies and hugs from mom and dad make it fun!
Be positive. Be reassuring. Have fun. Our son only started three years ago, our daughter followed a year after, and is currently playing and loving every minute. Would trade it for anything!
Be friendly, make friends at all your local rinks. Organize gear swaps. I buy maybe one or two pieces of new gear a year at most. Kids grow fast, so there’s a good chance you can get good quality gear for very little or nothing.
Have fun, encourage the heck out of them and dress warm.
Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same oil, in the same heat and yet the kernels do not POP at the same time. Don’t compare your child to other children. Their turn to POP is coming.
The people you meet, the bonds your kids make will be worth every cold moment at a rink.
Always ask did you have fun!!! There is nothing like being in the hockey family. It lasts a lifetime for you as well as your child.
Encourage & praise them. Always be positive. Savor – Every – Moment!!!
Be patient. Let them feel it out for themselves, and keep expectations in check. It’s a ton of fun as a player, parent and coach, we just have to let them decide if it’s right for them.
Relax and watch the game. Leave the coaching to the coaches. There is nothing more annoying to spectators or more distracting to the player than a parent screaming out plays from the stands. It is also embarrassing for the children of the overbearing hockey parent.
You will make mistakes. You will forget the game jersey. You will tie the skates too tight or not tight enough. Their socks will fall down no matter how much tape you use. You will work up more of a sweat getting them dressed than they will out on the ice. And before you know it they won’t need you at all. Love every crazy moment of it because there is nothing else like it in the world.
-Paul Allie Dickinson
The process works if you let it. Make friends, have a laugh, celebrate the good, hug out the bad, and let the rest work itself out.
Buy as much used gear as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. It’s okay to cheer loud and introduce yourself to other parents. They might be feeling out of their element too.
Find a league where development and fun are the priorities.
-Sarah Wilcox Cousineau
Every kid out there is someone else’s kid too. Be responsible for yours, and respectful of others.
I coached for @usahockey for 25 years, parents I want you to know that the programs they set up for new hockey players is incredible. From learning edge control to learning how to fall down and get up. The coaches you will meet are the best with the best training offered. HAVE FUN.
No such thing as too much tape. HAVE FUN. Enjoy your kids joy of the small things.
Remember that they are kids and enjoy the ride. There will be tons of challenges, but some of our best parenting opportunities have come out of a rough practice or game.
As a mom of a U18 player, it goes fast. Enjoy every second of it. Hockey families are friends for a lifetime.
One day you will miss the cold early mornings and car trips!! And your kids will be older and realize how much you gave to allow them to play!!! *Thanks mom and dad!
-Ashley Tomer Smith
Being a ‘Hockey Mom’ is such a rewarding experience with your hockey player. You’ll love it!
You’ll make lifelong friends and build a whole new family as that’s what the hockey world is…family! Enjoy, cheer really loud and embrace the ride!!
Get to like nachos and cheese sticks for dinner and remember the coaches are the coaches. There are two reasons there is glass around the rink, the first is to keep the puck in and the second is to keep the parents out.