Embrace a Parent's Most Valuable Role
Adam H. Naylor, Ed.D.
BU Athletic Enhancement Center / SPORT-Rx
All I wanted since I was age four was a hockey stick and to drag my parents to sign me up for hockey. I was five-years old and I literally grabbed my mom. I was a pain in the [butt] probably! She finally said, "Let's go to the rink we have to find a coach or something."
- Robert Kron,, former Columbus Blue Jacket, 14-year NHL wing
This is the most wonderful portrait of a parent-child relationship in hockey and it led to a long and successful NHL career! As a parent, what role do you play in your child's hockey-life? Who leads the charge to the rink, onto new teams, and into competitions?
The most important role that you, as a parent, play is that of supporter. Hockey is emotional. Victories are passionate and defeats can be heartbreaking. Emotionally support your child during successes and failures. Hockey presents players with challenge and adversity, and is a great sport because it does so. Support your child facing challenges, solving problems, and struggling with adversity without intervening with your "adult" powers and wisdom. Most struggles on the ice, in practice, and during training provide valuable learning opportunities. Well-intentioned parental assistance during challenge often robs players of valuable learning opportunities and over time hinders hockey and personal growth.
As a loving and caring parent, it is difficult to avoid the urge to eliminate a child's struggles and frustrations (even when they are typically short-lived). How can we fight this urge to act? Remember who is the director of your child's hockey career your son or daughter. While your own passions might run deep, it is the kid's aspirations and dreams that determine enjoyment and success on the ice. As a parent, play a supporting role. Ask yourself who is doing the "dragging" to the rink, you or your child? Give your player opportunities to choose when and how to compete.
Providing emotional support and support for challenges on the ice is the toughest, but most important, role a hockey-parent embraces. Whether it be as a young child or growing teenager, when the athlete, your child, determines goals and personally embraces opportunities to overcome obstacles, optimal hockey development and personal growth will be achieved. In the ideal hockey environment, kids play, learning to compete and solve problems, while parents support and encourage.
Dr. Adam Naylor is the Center Coordinator and Sport Psychology Coach at the Boston University Athletic Enhancement Center (www.bu.edu/aec/) and Sport Psychology Coach for SPORT-Rx (Norwell) (www.sport-rx.com). Beyond working with individuals, teams, and organizations, he currently teaches sport psychology and graduate counseling courses at Boston University and Trinity College, CT. He can be contacted at 617-414-6835 and/or