How I learned a parenting trick from a coach

Youth sports coaches are almost always moms and dads who have a kid on the team. This has been the case for both of my kids over the years in a multitude of sports which they play(ed).

Recently, I heard about a situation during a game that had me relating it to a parenting scenario. I didn’t personally witness the incident, but my partner was there and he outlined it to me later. He is the trainer on our boy’s hockey team and fills in as assistant coach when someone else is absent.

That particular situation made such an impression on me I decided to share it with you here.

In many team-oriented sports, there are several ‘lines’ of players that go out and play a shift, then return to the bench while another line of players go out and play the next shift.

In hockey, there are forward and defense players. The three forward players tend to go on the ice at the same time, and theoretically also come off more or less at the same time.

Sometimes, one of the forwards (usually a winger) gets caught in some play which prevents him from coming off at the same time as his linesmen. It happens.

But sometimes, a forward just doesn’t want to come off…

The shifts in hockey, especially in fast-paced teenage hockey, are short, 60 seconds, maybe 90 seconds max.

There once was a kid on the team who refused to come off repeatedly. He was a winger. It impacted the next winger who was on the bench waiting to get out to do his part, and it impacted the coaches who were encouraging, then yelling, at the kid to come off already.

One day, the head coach was absent. One of the assistant coaches was in charge.

As per usual, the winger went out with his line of players and, predictably, didn’t come off when the coach waved him over.

This time, the coach didn’t yell at the kid to come off. The boys on the bench started getting fidgety, but the other coaches and the trainer just left the situation to play itself out.

After an extra long shift, our wayward player skated to the bench and expected to take his seat among the others. Coach however waved him back out.

“Stay out,” he said to him.

So the player, a bit tired from all the racing around the ice, skated back out and did his thing.

Unsurprisingly, 30 seconds later he’s panting like crazy and skates back to the bench.

“Stay out,” coach said again and waved him off.

This repeated for some time.

After a while, it was evident that the kid needed to sit. Hockey is a high energy, heavy breathing sport. Coach opened the gate for him, and motioned to the back bench, the one where an injured kid would sit to get assessed by the trainer.

“Sit,” he said and then focused his attention to the rest of the game.

The kid had to sit the rest of the game. No one got into it, no one discussed it, no one got engaged in a debate. The coaches and the team focused on the game, and when it was over, everyone went to the dressing room.

Naturally, the sitting boy was pissed off. The team got debriefed, the boys undressed, and our wayward player stomped out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

I’m not sure if there was conversation with the parents, but knowing this coaching team I would think there was. This parent group is supportive, as I’m sure the parents of that boy were as well. I mean, they must have seen what happened…not just in this particular game, but in many previous games as well.

The kid had to suffer through the consequence for disobeying his coach and causing another winger to get less ice time.

The coach later told my partner “I ain’t gonna lose my voice over a situation like that,” and it makes you wonder doesn’t it. Because obviously, yelling at him to come off had been futile all this time.

Until now.

This past weekend, I attended my son’s tournament and saw several of their games. I did not notice any players purposely disregarding the coming-off waves. In fact, I thought the chemistry among the boys was much improved from earlier weeks, and they managed to play clean, and mostly come off at the designated times along with the rest of their linesmen.

It was a pleasure watching them, is what I’m saying. And, if I may toot my own horn, my boy, a center, was the top points earner AND top scores in this tournament. πŸ™‚

Anyway. About the wayward player who wouldn’t come off…what did this teach me about about parenting?

Do you really want to know?

Ok. I’ll tell you.


πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚Β  πŸ˜‚

But here’s the ultimate question: will I ever learn?

Feel free to point me back to this post the next time I cry about my own wayward children and/or when I lose my voice because of all the yelling. πŸ˜›

24 thoughts on “How I learned a parenting trick from a coach

  1. It’s a guarantee we’re going to yell at our kids at some point but I like the way the coach handled this. We’ve had a lot of good luck with our oldest. She learns through her failures. It’s tough. Really tough but we do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That coach had more patience than me. I would have told the kid to head to the locker room, and leave any equipment that was not his behind, but make sure he cleaned out his locker squeaky clean. But, then again, my ass is evil and impatient. That is bad news for slow stupid people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That reminds me of how when the grandchild was here and he would sleep late and the dogs would need to be taken out of their cages and walked, he wouldn’t wake up, so I blew a whistle. Shh…I think his dad found out and still regards me cautiously. I woke up the neighbors but not the kid (teenager). In one ear and out the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had t learn to parent all three of my kids differently. What worked really well for one didn’t even phase another. Teaching and coaching can’t be much different. Kids all react and learn and respond to different methods. Massive kudos to the coach for getting creative and finding an effective way to get his point across with this kid. The fact that he was willing to do something different is in itself an amazing feat. Too many times adult egos get in the way of things and they aren’t willing to change to fit the kids they are working with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Now that my boy is older now I don’t really miss coaching Ice Hockey. Too many entitled kids and soft parents. I loved teaching kids how to be hockey players and to do my part in preparing them for their life to come.

    Hockey is the perfect sport to learn about life.

    I can typically tell what a kids home life is like and what his parents style is simply by running through a couple of practices and observing how they are before/after.

    That’s a brilliant way to teach a kid about the selfishness he is showing by not changing when he should. I’ve benched a few kids for that same thing, but not in that manner. Wish I’d thought of that.

    To your point, how you interact with them depends on the kid. Some need only a suggestion, some need that look of disappointment (no matter how faux you have to make it,) others need you to crawl into your backside and kick around a while, and others need to be ridden like a pony.

    Just like spouses, your kids often listen better if the information is coming from someone else.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re absolutely right. Every kid is different, as how coachable they are or how they receive parenting, discipline etc.

      I’ve heard of parents who state that simply observing the kids during a hockey practice, they can tell a lot by how they are parented at home. I see it too, the few times I do witness kids’ practices.

      There’s a girl on my daughter’s team who flat out says no when a coach makes a suggestion. It’s very difficult to coach kids like that and coaches do rely heavily on parents to lend a hand in these circumstance (after, not while on the ice). Having the support of the parent to help the child develop the skill required to maintain that competitiveness on a rep team is crucial. I don’t know how they do this in other countries, but in Canada the focus is on positive reinforcement.

      The way that coach handled that wayward kid was awesome in my view. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate your view!


  6. Yelling is futile because it goes in one ear and out the other….usually. Every kid is different and need to be coached differently….and patented differently. At the end of the day… coach….

    Liked by 1 person

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