Hockey: It Ain't as Easy as it Looks

In 1996, the inaugural year of the Western Professional Hockey League, I took on a job with the Amarillo Rattlers Hockey Team. They were in early start up mode, and I was hired as a consultant to set up their merchandise operations for the club. While there, we met some interesting people, including city officials and key members of the business community. Amarillo, located in the Texas panhandle, was, at the time a population of 120,000. Hockey was a foreign sport to the locals, all of the sporting goods stores were filled to brim with football gear. In fact, the nightly sports cast was inundated with junior and senior high football game results. Very little room for a hockey team story.

The city had one indoor rink, the Amarillo Civic Centre, a facility large enough to warrant a small, professional league team. Less foreign to the community was roller hockey, and the city supported a well-used roller hockey rink. It was a covered barn of sorts, where many tried out this latest of the popular trendy sports. The community leaders, who fancied themselves as (former) athletes, wanted to try out this new sport called ice hockey. Now they had been on ice skates before, so in their minds playing hockey would come easy. The club owners graciously offered to provide them with gear, sticks and pucks to try it out. They agreed, so we took them out to the rink.

Hockey, as many Canadians know, is not as easy as it looks. It takes lots of practice and hard work to master the skills of skates, puck and stick. But sometimes, people think things are easy until they actually try it. Sure, these guys could skate, but when they tried to shoot a puck (while moving) or take a slap-shot (while stationary) it was quite the scene. Many-a-fall for the newbies. Within 30 minutes or so, they had had enough, and humbly acknowledged that the sport was much tougher than they had imagined.

This story reminds me of some wannabe helicopter parents. The ones who coach from the sidelines. When you have been watching a sport for many years that you have never played, somehow people think that they are experts. Well, the truth is they are not. If you have never been on the pitcher’s mound with all the pressures that surround it, then you really don’t know what it is like. Further, you are NOT qualified to give advice, let alone coach your child.

If you really think you know a bit about the sport your child is participating in, maybe you should try it first before giving them advice on how to play. You will find it’s best to leave the coaching up to the coaches. That’s why they are in those roles, and why you are the parent.