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Three Disciplines You Can Practice to Keep from Being “That” Hockey Dad or Mom!

In Leadership by Walter Aguilar

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day” Jim Rohn

In hockey arenas, there seems to always be “that” hockey parent. The one who yells and screams at the referees, coaches and even their own kid. They are often over attached, takes things personal, is very self righteous as their version of the truth is always “the truth.” When you encounter them in action, it is easy to point the finger at them because of their obvious boorish behaviour. They are the bleacher coaches, referees and hockey analysts who disrupt and create drama that affects everyone’s enjoyment of the game. 

However, as the saying goes, when you point the finger at someone, then you have three fingers pointing back at you. Anyone can be “that” hockey parent if they do not have the skills or tools to mange their own stress reactions. Often, when a parent is under stress reaction they will experience the fight, flight or freeze reactions in their bodies, which greatly affects how they will show up in the moment.

Being a hockey parent can be difficult because of the expectations that are put on by not only the hockey industry but everyone’s needing to feel worthy, competent, and successful as a parent. It requires time, money and personal responsibility to truly be an effective hockey parent. The more invested and attached a hockey parent is to a specific outcome for their kids, the greater the potential for the negative behavior. Often, it is easier to just lash out than to take time to reflect and respond in a more meaningful way.

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No parent ever wakes up and thinks “I am going to be distraction to everyone at the rink today”. It happens one small decision at a time throughout the day. Even without hockey, life can be stressful even at the best of times. This means that anyone can be “that” hockey parent at any moment because when parents are under stress reaction the following can occur :

  1. They are unaware of how they are showing up in the moment
  2. They take things personal or are fearful of negative outcomes
  3. Their attachment to outcomes are connected to their self esteem
  4. They are quick to judge, label and gossip
  5. They can go from stimuli to reaction (0-60MPH) very quickly
  6. They let the adrenalin dumps drive their behavior
  7. They react as if their story telling version must be the truth

Parents who are more mindful and present understand that it is not about selfish ambition but rather about providing their kids a meaningful life experiences from playing hockey. The following are three disciplines that when understood, adopted and practiced daily can help a parent shift into more effective state of being. They will experience greater peace, joy and satisfaction. It can free them from the need to control from fear based beliefs, to one has a positive influence with how they show up in the moment. These three disciplines are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Acceptance
  3. Conscious choice

The discipline of Awareness is key to any change. Self-awareness can come from parents asking themselves some of the following questions:

  • What am I taking personal here?
  • Is my self worth as parent attached to my kid’s outcomes?
  • How come fairness is so important to me?
  • Is my behavior helping my son/daughter be more effective out there?
  • Is my need to be right more important than being kind and patient?
  • What value(s) am I role modeling for my kid?

Being aware that what one thinks is truth, may not be necessarily the truth, because everyone views life situations through their own personal and unique life filters. Self awareness of the story a parent is telling themselves of the present situation is the beginning to shift. Often stories are the result of taking things personal or fear of an undesired outcome. Understanding the story can be muted, edited or changed is in the power of the story teller. Parent are the story tellers. Although life may not be as personal as we think it is, we are more responsible than we think we are, for how we experience life.

The discipline of Acceptance has the power to dramatically change how a parent feels in the moment. Acceptance is only as easy or hard as parent believes it is. Often acceptance means different things to different people. Acceptance is when you can accept the moment as it is, not wanting it to be like it was in the past or wanting it to be different in the future than it is now. Judgements and labels can be the blocks to acceptance and letting things go. Wanting what is best for their kids is not wrong but when an outcome is linked to their own self esteem or value as a parent, it is a recipe for dysfunction. Adopting an attitude of trust over fear can be very effective in practicing acceptance. “Trust the process”, can be a helpful affirmation to consider adopting.

The discipline of Conscious Choice making is exactly that, a choice made in the moment with conscious awareness. When a parent can be aware of their surroundings, feelings and accept those things that are not in their control than they can step into their power and make a conscious choice. When a parent can choose to be in the present moment and speak their truth in a meaningful manner, they will be able to role model what an effective and mindful hockey parent looks like and sounds like. The results will be a more enjoyable hockey experience for everyone at the rink and a deeper more enriching hockey experience for their kids.

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About the Author
Walter Aguilar

Walter Aguilar

Walter Aguilar – is a Certified Professional Coach and COR.E Performance Dynamics Specialist. Using the mind/energy connection to performance, he teaches a unique approach to peak performance. He specializes in teaching mindfulness for hockey using the COR.E Performance Dynamics energy leadership system. This is based on the 7 levels of energy that thoughts create. These affect awareness, confidence, engagement, creativity and intuition. His equation of Performance = Potential – Interference, provides a framework for success in hockey and life.


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