Coaching youth hockey is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my life.
Motivating a new group each season to grow in both skill and maturity is something that I take great pride in. But with new kids, come new parents. And with new parents, come new expectations. These parental expectations come in varying degrees, but even the smallest ones can become detrimental if not addressed up front early on in the season.
Expectations are defined as strong beliefs that something will happen or be the case in the future. Or the belief that someone will or should achieve something.
As coaches we have plenty of expectations for our players. They’re expected to show up on time, pay attention, work hard, have a positive attitude, show good sportsmanship, and respect the game of hockey. These are healthy and realistic expectations, holding kids accountable to create fun and challenging environments for them to learn. Teaching them not only the game of hockey, but life lessons they will carry with them their whole lives.
Parents share healthy expectations of course, but along with that come their individual expectations on how things should be run or turn out. Parents may expect their child to play a specific position, only play on the first line, or score a goal every game. They may expect practices to be run a certain way, lines to be structured in a particular fashion, and they may become dissatisfied with the amount of time their child is seeing on the ice. These are unhealthy expectations, and rarely, if ever, line up with the expectations of coaches or organizations.
Be patient and don’t take things personally. Parents invest a lot of time and money which feeds most of their negative expectations. Ultimately, our job as coaches is to prepare kids for the next level.
Keeping parents involved and educated is a big part of succeeding in that goal. Just remember that this is all for the betterment of our kids, and to succeed, parental and coaching expectations must align. Manage the expectations and enjoy a better reality.
Here are five things that can be done to align a coach’s expectations with the parents:
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