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Preparing Your Child for Travel Hockey Try Outs!
My son has played hockey since he was 4 and last year he made his first travel ice hockey team. It was then that I realized hockey is not only a sport but a lifestyle. If you, and your child make the commitment to a travel team you will find that your world will soon become all things hockey related. Equipment, skates, ice time, what clubs you want to play for, who wants you to play for them, and finally TRYOUTS!!!!!!
This is such a big right of passage for these boys and girls. Making the team or not making the team is monumental. So, as a hockey mom, here are some tips to help prepare your kid for tryouts:
NUMBER 1: MAKE SURE THEIR EQUIPMENT IS IN GOOD SHAPE. Nothing is worse for a kid trying out is to have an equipment malfunction. Not only can it be unsafe but very distracting. Make sure their skates are sharpened and sized right. Mouth guards are not chewed up and fits well. Helmet straps are all there and working. Sticks are properly sized and taped. If you have to replace any equipment, particularly skates, make sure you do it a few weeks before your tryouts so your player can break them in properly. Nothing is worse than getting a blister when you are trying out for the team.
NUMBER 2: ENCOURAGE AND MOTIVATE YOUR PLAYER BUT DON'T INTIMIDATE. This is a often fine line for some parents to navigate. You want your child to succeed, you want your kid to make the team, but whether they make the team is ultimately up to them and the coaches. I have seen some parents yelling at their kid through the glass all of the things they are doing wrong. This doesn't really help your player, in fact it often distracts them or makes them shut down. If you see a mistake talk to your player after they come off the ice. Also, make sure your player really wants to play at this level. Sometimes, kids will commit to these teams because they think mommy and daddy want them to, not because they choose to play. When helping your child to mentally prepare to remind them of all the great things that they did last season. But, also remind them, in a gentle way, of these things they worked to fix last year. For example, my son has a tendency to hang back on plays sometimes, we reminded him of how much better his game was when he didn't hold back.
NUMBER 3 KEEP YOUR PLAYER IN SHAPE FOR TRYOUTS Often times there is some down time between the hockey season end and tryouts. This can often be a really hard time for young athletes. Their level of physical activity often drops of dramatically, therefore they may find that they gain a few extra pounds. My son, continues everyday with his off ice regimen which includes running up and down the driveway, sit ups and weight training. Ice Hockey is a very intense, fast paced and physical sport, being out of shape not only makes playing the game harder but can really affect your child mentally. Also, before the tryouts make sure your kid gets extra sleep. I have my son also, just take it easy in general before tryouts. It doesn't help the kids to perform their best when they are physically tired or stressed out.
NUMBER 4 HAVE YOUR CHILD REVIEW THE GAME, KEEP THEIR SKILLS SHARP. Have your child watch hockey on t.v. or the internet. This will help to reinforce how to play their position, check, and the overall skills needed for the game. My son watches videos that we found on You Tube. Also, try and get ice time for your child before the big day. This can come either in the form of lessons, a spring league, or stick in shoot's at your local rink.
NUMBER 5 YOUR CHILD MAY NOT MAKE THE TEAM. This is probably one of the harshest realities of travel ice hockey. There may just be someone better than your child. This is a hard fact for anyone to learn. But, remember you are a parent and the decision of who makes the team is that of the coaches. Also sometimes, your player may just choke out on the ice. This can come from nerves, fatigue or equipment issues. No matter what the outcome of your child's tryouts there is always next year and ice hockey should be fun.