What To Tell A Player When They Get Cut

Ask The Mental Coach is dedicated to the “mental” part of hockey from both player and parent perspectives. Shawnee Harle takes your questions and provides feedback based on her experiences and training. If you have a question to Ask The Mental Coach, email us!

“My kid just got cut from his team. It was the first time he has experienced this kind of disappointment when it comes to hockey. What is the best way to offer encouragement? I don’t want him to get discouraged and want to quit.”

Getting cut from a team is what happens when we pursue excellence.  If we don’t want to get cut, then tryout for a crappy team!!  I once coached an athlete that got cut six times from a National Team.  Six times!  On the seventh time she was chosen.  Imagine what would have happened if she hadn’t shown up the seventh time!

Disappointment and discouragement are normal feelings when we don’t get what we want. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to offer encouragement if your intent is to save your player from their feelings. Emotional intelligence requires us to feel our feelings, ALL of them.  Plus, they are called feelings because we are supposed to feel them.  What a concept!  Hold space for your player to feel disappointed and discouraged.

Help them process those feelings rather than saving them from them.  “I know this has been disappointing and discouraging.  I feel those feelings with you.  I want to hear about your disappointment. Tell me more.”  Then you sit and listen INTENTELY without trying to fix or save them. You ask questions that help your player self reflect. Once you have helped them process the feelings, say something like this, “When you feel ready to bounce back, let me know, and I will share some great strategies with you.  I will walk alongside and help you come back stronger and smarter than ever.”

And make sure you add LOTS of hugs!!

Once they are ready to bounce back, help them become a detective.  A detective looks for clues to solve the mystery.  What did getting cut show them?  Where are their gaps?  What does the player need to get better at?  What’s missing compared to the players that were chosen for the team?  Then you help them make a plan and get to work on closing those gaps.

BE. DO. HAVE. BE willing to DO what it takes to HAVE what you want.

Shawnee is a two-time Olympian with 26 years of elite coaching and leadership experience. Shawnee holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Studies, and she is a Master Coach Developer and Master Learning Facilitator for the National Coaching Certification Program, where she trains and mentors both advanced and novice coaches from all sports.

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Is Hockey a Safe Sport for Kids?

This is the time of year many kids take to the ice for the very first time. New hockey moms and dads crowd in change rooms helping kids get in their gear and tying up skates. Then off they go to watch from the stands as their little one shuffles around the ice, chasing a puck they can’t keep up with.

Inevitably, this always ends up with a few kids falling creating a domino effect until several kids lay helplessly starfished on the ice waiting for a friendly coach to pull them to their feet. And as new hockey parents watch this comical display, many of us worry about our kids getting hurt.

Is Hockey Safe?

Youth hockey is in fact a quite a safe sport. Kids start off slow by simply learning to skate and then using a stick as they get older. Hockey is a very well-supervised sport because it is complex to learn. It’s a safe, steady progression. Not to mention the levels of protection hockey equipment provides.

While hockey is a leading cause of sport-related injury reported to Canadian emergency departments, soccer actually accounts for the largest proportion of injuries in Canada. Youth hockey players visited the ER less often than kids who play football, soccer, basketball, or wrestle.

Risk of injuries

At the younger levels, hockey injuries are very low. However, they do increase as the kids become more proficient in the sport while getting bigger and faster. Youth players are more likely to sustain an injury in a game rather than during practice. Playing in a league with body checking is associated with up to three times increased risk of all game-related injuries. 

And as players move into rep programs such as AAA, AA, A, the risk increases. This is because players are stronger, shoot harder and are more aggressive. It isn’t just boys hockey that can be rough. The girls’ game at the higher levels is very physical despite body checking being prohibited.

Types of injuries

Minor hockey players are most likely to be injured in the upper extremities (23%-55%), followed by spine and trunk (13%-32%). Lower extremity injuries account for 21%-27% of injuries.
Male hockey players are are more likely to experience fractures and shoulder injuries than female players (27% vs. 8%) due to body checking. Girls on the other hand, sustain more soft tissue injuries such as sprains.

The biggest concern for hockey still remains concussion risk. Head injuries account for 7%-30% of injuries. But the people who oversee the hockey have been working on creating rules to prevent this. The Ontario Government, for example, has enacted Rowan’s Law that brings awareness and sets guidelines for the treatment and management of concussions.

The memories of typical hockey player missing teeth of the past are long gone — at least in minor hockey. Mandatory full facial protection and mouth guard usage reduced the risk for these types of injuries to virtually zero.

Body checking or body contact?

Firstly, let’s differentiate between body checking and body contact. 

Body checking is where the defensive player purposely uses his upper body to hit the opposing player with the puck with force. 

Body contact is a player’s defensive move where rather than hitting the other player, they place their body by leaning into the player, skating, angling, or stick checking to remove the puck from the other player.

Body contact is present in all levels of hockey. Girls hockey at the rep level has lots of body contact and it is up to the referees to regulate it before it crosses to body checking.

Body checking is generally only allowed at the rep level where coaches take the time to teach this skill and how to use it to minimize injury. Body checking has been eliminated completely below the U14 level in Canada and the United States. Many are advocating raising the age even higher, while some believe the age should be lower so kids are taught to hit —and take a hit — correctly before there is a large size and strength discrepancy due to some kids hitting puberty before others.

Although referees provide strict enforcement, body checking is the main cause of injuries, either from direct contact or from being checked into the boards or another player.

Hockey is a great sport but like all sports, is does have some risk. However the risk is very low in the younger years. Mostly little kids sustain and few bumps and bruises from falling.

Now stop worrying Mom and Dad … it’s time to have fun on the ice!

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Cold Realities For New Hockey Moms

When you sign your kid up for hockey, you about to enter a world of fun, friendships and memories.

If you’re a hockey fan you’ve probably already got your warm coat and footwear and are ready to hit the rink bleachers. I

f you’re new to the sport, you are about to become a hockey fan because your favorite player is now playing, which quintessentially makes you a hockey mom. Now as a hockey mom you need to understand that your life is about to change. Here is what to expect …

Your social life and social circle will change

Hockey life becomes your life. You will be turning down activities and invitations because “my kid has hockey”. As a result you will soon find that you find yourself hanging out more with other hockey moms. Your non-hockey moms won’t always get your family’s dedication to the sport, but other hockey moms will.

You will work differently

You will make sure you don’t schedule any work meetings after 4 p.m. You will be taking calls in the car on the way to hockey. You will work in the rink while your player practices. Yes … it’s a balance but it is all worth it to see your kids play.

Your typical day changes

It looks like this: Go to work, leave work early, pick up kids from school, go to practice, make dinner, help with homework, hound kids to shower, prep hockey bags for next day, put kids to sleep, finish work report (because you left early), make lunches, go to sleep. Wake up, start again.

Say goodbye to shopping for yourself

You will spend $200 dollars on a hockey stick instead of the season’s “must have” handbag. If you do buy something for yourself you will evaluate it in terms of “Can I wear this to work and is it warm enough for the rink?” Yes, hockey gear will come first!

Your purse will be huge

Remember that diaper bag you carried in your kids’ early years? You may want to dig it out from storage. Your hockey mom purse will contain, snacks, extra socks, hockey tape, hair ties, skate laces, change for the vending machine, first aid kit, Advil, thermal coffee traveler, a hat, a scarf, gloves, blanket and seat warmer.

You will keep your winter clothes in the car

It’s July and your trunk contains a winter coat, warm footwear, hat, scarf and gloves. A Hockey Mom is always prepared for a cold rink. Flip flops and shorts don’t cut it in the rink. Trust me … I have been stepped on by skates while wearing sandals and it wasn’t fun.

You will know every rink within an hour’s drive

Getting to the local rinks, you are on autopilot … including the coffee shop stop on the way. For out-of-town rinks, your GPS has them all programmed. Now just pray the traffic cooperates. There is nothing worse than the panic that sets in when you realize you are going to be late.

Your house and car will smell … bad

There is no smell as awful as the sweaty hockey gear that now airs out in your dining room. You will also find yourself cracking the windows in the car in the middle of February to stop from gagging. Hockey gloves smell and the hands that were in them smell worse. You’ll get used to it. Air fresheners can help.

You will never sleep in again

Weekends are for sleep … says no Hockey Mom ever! Weekends are now for early morning practices, games and tournaments. And I mean early, as in before breakfast.

You may gain weight

While you may have a great workout routine now, it will be tougher to get a visit to the gym in your hockey schedule. Pair that with the lovehandle-inducing rink concession food and you might see a change in your waistline. To negate this, eat before heading to the rink so you won’t be tempted and take a walk while your kid practices for an hour.

Yes, being a Hockey Mom means sacrificing a few things, but there is nothing like watching your kid beam at you from the ice when they hear you cheering for them.

You are so proud of them, and they are proud of your, too. After all, you are THEIR Hockey Mom, and Hockey Moms rock!

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