Ryan's Rant - Kids Should Only Have Fun

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By Terry Ryan

As I watched my son Tison practice recently, I was approached and asked an all too familiar question by a parent of one of the kids. "What does young (9 year old) Johnny have to do to make the NHL?"

I have lived all over North America, coached a lot of kids, and I think it's safe to make the generalization that many parents are too involved. Parents need to sit back and let the kids have fun. Especially kids 15 and under.

It saddens me to see an 8 or 9 year old try to make his dad happy by shooting the puck hard, as daddy sits behind the net with a radar gun (for example). Making the early morning 6 A.M. practice (which I used to love) become an evaluation of talent. This is forcing stress on a child who should be more concerned with finding WALDO or collecting G.I. Joe action figures. Too often, parents try and live their dreams through their children, or cling onto the idea that the kid will bring in monetary dividends in a decade or so. Hockey is a great game, but it is ONLY a game and it is meant to be fun.  In Canada we have a fantastic system in Hockey Canada, and those who are exceptional talents will get noticed in the end.

Closely linked to this idea is the thought that many parents feel, to see maximum improvement, they have to put their kids in hockey all year round.

Again, I liken this to treating the kid as a business investment that may pay off in the future.  Just because you or your wife may be having a mid-life crisis, don't speed up your child's hockey growth by force. The most important and healthy thing is the smile on a young boy or girl's face when you are at the rink. Everyone needs a break - some more than others - and any extra-curricular activity they may take part in during the off-season should be voluntary. For me, at the end of April, I swept my skates under the bed and broke out the baseball glove, and I looked forward to every minute of it. I played lots of street hockey, and in August I was ready to hit the ice again. I couldn't wait to enroll in one of the hockey schools in my hometown.

In my opinion, hockey is the greatest game on earth. It can be highly emotional, and there are many things to learn and improve on for any young player. The sky is the limit for all young athletes. All I am saying is let's let our children figure that out for themselves.


Check Back Every Week For 'Ryan's Rant', By Terry Ryan.


Also Watch For Terry Ryan's book, 'Tales Of A First Round Nothing'.



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