Autumn has arrived! As the leaves change color and the weather gets cooler, hockey parents across North America prepare for hockey season. Whether your child is a new or returning hockey player, it’s important to start the season right. The schedule, the equipment, the routine, conditioning and nutrition all play an important part in having a great hockey season, for both the players and their parents.
Prepping Your New Hockey Player
Hockey is a great sport for kids to learn teamwork, dedication and fun. You’ve picked a great sport! If your child is new to hockey, there are some ways to get ready that will make it easier to start. It is important to get a solid start for new players so they can focus on loving the sport and not become overwhelmed by it. It’s just as important for new hockey parents to ready themselves because, as you may have heard, starting hockey can be a big adjustment for kids and parents.
Here are a few tips to help you and your child start hockey season right:
The basics of hockey preparation…
As a new hockey parent, there are some core things you need to know. And who better to turn to for the How To’s of Hockey than Source for Sports because they really do know their stuff:
- How to dress your child in hockey gear
- How to pack your child’s hockey bag
- How to tie your child’s hockey skates
Another thing you’ll need to know out of the gate is how to tape your child’s hockey stick – it’s kind of a hockey tradition. However, as a new hockey parent, you may not know that there are easier alternatives to taping a hockey stick which might be a great option to save time and aggravation from the start of your child’s hockey career.
New hockey parents can be stumped by what hockey equipment their child needs to start their first season of hockey. Canadian Tire has answered the call with the WOW Guide to Hockey – page 2 of the guide gives you a list of everything you need to gear up your new hockey player including both essential hockey equipment (helmet, gloves, mouth guard, elbow pads etc.) and optional pieces (skate guards, base layers, hockey accessory options and skate socks). Again, Source for Sports comes through with a great article about how to choose the right hockey stick. And don’t forget to protect that expensive hockey gear - for example, a hockey blade protector to defend your stick from blade damage or the right hockey grips to protect your gloves.
Advice from experienced hockey parents for newbies…
And the most important part is advice from experienced hockey parents to get your first hockey season started off right.
Prepare to spend a lot of time in cold arenas:
Make sure you are well-equipped with a warm coat, woolly socks, boots and a blanket. Always have a pocket full of change for the coffee machine to keep you warmly hydrated with coffee or hot chocolate. If your new hockey player has siblings, make sure you consider the impact on them. Either arrange for a babysitter or bring stuff to keep them occupied – homework, fully charged iPad, workbooks, or colouring. Even better – have the siblings make friends with other siblings at the arena and they’ll be enjoying their time at the arena all season playing with new friends.
The hockey schedule will take over your life:
Starting hockey is a big adjustment for both players and parents and you are going to need some time to get used to it. Preparation will help. Gather together some quick and easy meal ideas because there is only so much McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s your family can eat. Coordinate with your spouse and leverage the awesomeness of Grandparents to cover practices and games because as much as you’d like to, you can’t do everything. Make friends with other hockey parents so that you can coordinate switch-offs of drop-offs and pick-ups for times you can’t be at the arena – they’ll be just as thrilled as you are to regain some time (and likely stay home to catch up on laundry).
Give your child enough time to get dressed at the arena:
There is nothing more stressful than arriving late at the hockey arena and having to rush to gear up for a hockey game or practice. So, give yourself and your child enough time by arriving early so that the gearing up process is not so painful. Or, if you are running late, your child can start getting dressed in their hockey gear at home to save time when you arrive.
Forgotten and lost hockey equipment:
There is nothing that compares to investing in expensive hockey equipment at the beginning of the season only to have it perpetually forgotten at home or, worse yet, lost in the bowels of the hockey change room. So, to prevent forgotten items, make a checklist and attach it to your child’s hockey bag. This also alleviates some of your running around at the last minute because while you are taking care of other priorities at home before the big game, your child can be following the checklist to pack their own hockey bag.
When it comes to losing hockey equipment, it is often because pieces get mixed up in the change room and players are inadventently packing/taking other players’ items. This can be particularly true of items that all look similar – like hockey sticks. A great way to prevent this is by getting customized hockey grips for your child’s stick – you can choose the color they love and personalize the hockey grips with your child’s name and jersey number.
Readying Your Returning Player for a New Hockey Season
If your child is coming back for another season of hockey, you probably know the drill and most of the advice above for new hockey players is likely a welcome refresher to get you back into the hockey season frame of mind. But there are a few things you do need to think about going into a new hockey season:
Last season’s equipment doesn’t fit:
You may be shocked by this, but children grow! And this realization might hit you at the wrong time - just as you are heading out the door to the first practice of the new season. Don’t get caught with your hockey pants down!
Have your child try on all of their equipment and figure out what pieces are not going to make it through the season. Then, get shopping early into hockey season, while hockey gear selection is at its best – you don’t want to be stuck with the leftovers.
Remember, when investing in new hockey equipment, you want to sure you choose wisely and protect it. Look at new hockey products technology on the market and don’t rely on the same-old-same-old. For example, hockey sticks and hockey skates are on the cutting edge, improving every season. Hockey sticks are lighter, stronger and more flexible than ever, so choose wisely. And, before you reach for that hockey tape, think about why hockey tape is the same every year with no technological advancements. Maybe it’s time for a change to a better alternative to hockey tape?
Returning to the same team still takes time to adjust:
Despite the fact that your child may be returning to the same team, it still takes some time to adjust. There may be new players, new coaches, or a new goalie. Encourage your child to be open to change and inclusive of these new people – they are probably nervous and will appreciate the effort.
Also, getting back into the routine can be a challenge. The long days of a relaxing summer are in the past and the sudden realization hits that your hockey player’s body just may not be ready for the gruelling challenge of a new hockey season. Starting back into an exercise routine and conditioning to prepare for a new season of hockey is highly recommended. It’s also a good idea to look at the best nutrition to support your hockey player. There are some great resources available about nutrition for hockey:
- Nutrition For Hockey from BC Hockey
- 3 Game Winning Nutrition Tips from Puckmasters
- Nutrition Guide for Hockey Players, Parents & Coaches by Kraft Canada
Start the New Hockey Season Right
Whether you are a new or returning player, it’s important to start off on the right skate. From cold arenas to carpooling. From coffee change to conditioning. It’s all going to be a big adjustment. So prepare well for the start of hockey season, because playoffs are just around the corner!
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/jill111-334088/