My parents are coming to watch my game


























 By Brent Bradford & Vic LeMire

Brent Bradford and Vic LeMire, authors of a new hockey resource book, “Goaltenders are not Targets,” have joined forces to deliver a series of articles that relate directly to parents in the game of hockey. Throughout the hockey season, it is hoped that all parents will gather some pertinent information so that every player is provided with the unconditional support that is necessary for enhanced levels of self-confidence, self-efficacy and enjoyment in the game of hockey.


Important questions to consider during the hockey season: Where … when … why … how … in the world did specific parents come up with such outrageous and, oftentimes, cruel behaviors that are so commonly observed in arenas across the hockey world?

Attention hockey players! When you step onto the ice for the big game, would you not agree that it is such a rewarding opportunity to notice your parents sitting in the stands cheering for you and your team with such enjoyment? Does it not make you feel so good to know that they are cheering for you during every game … praising every great play, shot, pass and/or save you make? Arguably, every single hockey player enjoys the cheering, the clapping, the whistling, the “Thumbs-Up” signs, and all the other encouraging and positive feedback provided by parents! After all, is that not what playing the wonderful game of hockey is all about?

Experience tells us: When parents are sitting in the stands during a hockey game, such gratification and comfort radiates from hockey players as they compete hard for 60+ minutes. Hockey players, at all levels, wish to truly play their best to make their parents proud and entertained! They not only cherish the game of hockey, they also love hearing loud cheers after a big goal, a big hit, a game-winning save, and being “picked back up” after a bad pass or a goal against. Positive, specific and constructive feedback can be so helpful for all hockey players; it plays a vital role in the development process!

Developing skills and reaching high levels of success provides specific rewards that every child deserves to experience across the globe. Whether it is making a “huge” save or scoring a big goal, playing an instrument, performing a drama, writing a poem, jumping off a big hill in motocross, calculating an interesting equation, throwing someone out at second base, painting like da Vinci or slalom racing on a longboard, every single child thrives on positive energy. In fact, enhanced levels of self-confidence, self-efficacy, understanding and enjoyment will begin to occur when children receive positive, specific and constructive feedback from a variety of sources.

Although the information above seems to be quite understandable and simple, the following query must be attended to: Why would parents utter even one single word of “discouragement” toward their hockey players when the result can only create embarrassment along with other negative outcomes?

Homework for parents: It is doubtful that hockey players will play the perfect game on a consistent basis (and possibly even once during a career) … so to expect them to make zero mistakes is ludicrous and thoughtless! Even professional hockey players have been observed from time to time making mistakes during games. Therefore, a homework assignment we believe wholeheartedly that parents must complete during each and every hockey game is to recognize one magnificent play and/or one flawless accomplishment to communicate through positive, specific and constructive feedback to their aspiring hockey players following the games in a congratulatory way.

Parents must be encouraged to develop strategies for providing positive, specific, and constructive feedback to their hockey players … while including clear signs of approval (e.g., vocal, big smile, hug, high-5, or simply a “Let’s go for a treat”)!

Just the facts: All hockey players become overly excited when they observe “great big smiles” on the faces of their parents after hockey games along with receiving a dose of positive, specific and constructive feedback.

Personal experience (Coach Vic LeMire): I absolutely loved to observe the great big smiles on my mother’s face after my hockey games. Also, I remember so fondly all those 5 a.m., hockey practices that she woke me up for and drove me to so faithfully … in all types of “wintery” weather, too! However, she never complained! Those smiles she wore were my rewards. I knew I made her feel so proud!

Now, my dad was a different type of hockey fan! Being a former world champion wrestler, he understood completely the physical sacrifices that a person must give to reach high levels of success in any sport … and to see him (or should I say “hear him”) in the stands provided me with confidence … and, oftentimes, laughs too! I could tell very easily that he was experiencing every single save I was making when he watched, wiggled and kicked as he sat by himself, away from all the other parents! I understand now as I understood then, that was just the athlete in him! He was a competitor … he was a World Champion … and with all his athletic, competitive nature ... during my hockey games … he was not only a dad, he was a proud father! I absolutely loved and treasured his arena antics from as early as I can remember! The athlete in him was simply playing the game with me … and together we formed a winning combination!

In fact, I would like to share one incident that occurred early in my playing career that truly influenced our enjoyment of the game of hockey together. My dad had this very studious voice and could be heard clearly amongst all other sounds in the arena. Without shouting, I could hear him say, “Watch out Vic” as the opposing team began their offensive attack from the other end of the ice surface. In his voice, I could hear so clearly the nervous anticipation he had built up. He wanted our team to stop the offensive attack before they reached my territory on the ice.

I guess this type of situation is natural for goaltender parents. However, one Saturday morning during breakfast, I spoke with him about this subject. I said, “Dad, I hear you praying in the stands that our team stops the opposing players before they arrive in my ‘real estate,’ but honestly, I want to be the one who stops them! I want the opportunities to show the opposing team that they will not get past me!”  Throughout this discussion, I wanted my dad to understand that my primary goal was to perform well and to be challenged by opposing players. After all, that was how I was going to reach elite levels of hockey!

From that moment on, my dad changed from a worried dad to one who was proud of my competitive nature! I can remember so easily him saying, “Great job, son!” In fact, I know that he truly enjoyed the games so much more after our discussion! Our discussion made a significant impact on how we approached the games, and truthfully, I enjoyed playing the hockey so much more after we communicated!

Sad situations in today’s hockey arenas: There are distinguishable behaviors that specific parents display in hockey arenas that are deemed extremely negative. These behaviors get noticed and heard by everyone in the environment, including young siblings running around. However, there are those of you that we have come across throughout our 85-plus years of combined hockey experience who ask angrily:

• Why would a parent shout profanities toward his/her hockey player?

• Why would a parent yell foolishly to his/her aspiring hockey player, “That was a terrible play (or goal). Get off the ice!”

• Why would a parent physically grab his/her hockey player by the jersey and yell in his/her face when the player is simply trying to walk to the team’s dressing room after a game?

• Why would a parent swear loudly at a referee who, oftentimes, is not even halfway through junior high school?

Why? Experience has taught us that there are those people in the stands during hockey games who shout in their loud voices nasty, inconsiderate and, oftentimes, violent statements toward their hockey players, other players and referees! We are convinced that you have observed this at some point throughout your time in hockey arenas. Competition is an important tool for development. However, it has also played an integral part in the exposure of negative behaviors in far too many situations in the stands during hockey games. We would like you to ask yourself throughout this hockey season … why?

The game of hockey exists for your hockey players to enjoy, to compete alongside others and to experience many valuable life lessons! Permitting the game of hockey to be enjoyable for hockey players will ensure the longevity of their interest, devotion and dedication toward skill development while experiencing the emergence of strong character traits.

There are, most likely, several positive reasons why your hockey players choose to play hockey. For example:

• Recreation

• Team-building skills

• Win the Stanley Cup

• Earn a hockey scholarship

• Develop skills in order to educate, mentor and train hockey players

• … and much more

It is crucial that parents remind themselves throughout the season why their hockey players have decided to participate in the game of hockey.

Attention parents! Throughout the upcoming hockey season, we encourage you to use all the special moments, which will be experienced by watching, cheering and supporting your hockey players, to assist in your development of becoming. The Most Supportive Hockey Parent (MSHP) that provides positive, specific and constructive feedback on a consistent basis!

Have a terrific hockey season! Enjoy watching your hockey player develop his/her skills!

Keep it up! We would be overly excited to hear that you are completing your homework assignment each and every game. We believe that, upon completion, the homework assignments will convert into lifelong, memorable experiences!

After all, due to the rich amount of positive, specific and constructive feedback you provide to your hockey player after each and every game this season, would it not be outstanding if those conversations assisted in the development of your potential elite-level player – and as a reward one day in the future, he/she offered to purchase tickets for you to travel across the country to watch him/her play a junior, college or professional hockey game? To top it off, just to make everything almost equal, he/she may even offer to buy dinner after the game, including appetizers!

Coach Bradford and Coach LeMire’s checklist for parents
1. Have an enjoyable hockey season!
2. Complete your homework assignments!
3. Remind yourself: “My hockey player is putting forth his/her best effort! Is that not what I truly want?”

It is hoped that this article has, in some way, provided you with some “food for thought.” We are excited to continue to write additional articles that will focus on parents in the game of hockey.

We invite you to contact us throughout the hockey season if you have any questions or comments on this or any other parent articles … and/or if you would like to share stories of success relating to your completed homework assignments!

Contact Coach Brent Bradford, M.Ed., at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Contact Coach Vic LeMire at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..