Dear Atom Coach,
Can I start by saying, thank you? I know what you’re taking on with this kid. I love him dearly, but focus isn’t always his friend. In fact, more days than not, he is like a squirrel trying to get across a road.
Bless his well intentioned heart.
But he loves playing hockey. All of it. And when we can get the stars to align, he’s actually pretty good at playing the game. He’s fast on his feet and he will get in front of the play. When the stars align.
He also skates in circles while waiting for the puck to drop at faceoff time. It’s his signature move. I was told by his coaches last year to leave it be, he’s just keeping his legs warm, Mom. Who am I to argue? But if you’re like me and it gives you an eye twitch, he will try to listen to you. I can’t tell him that. He won’t remember by the time his feet hit the ice for game time.
I promise you this, he tries. And really that’s all we expect from him when it comes to playing hockey. That he tries to the best of his attention span that day. Most days. Everyone is allowed an off day now and then.
Here’s a few pieces of advice when dealing with Boy #1 that we have collected over the last four years in hockey.
- Give him a job to do. This wisdom comes from his second year Novice coach and it worked like a charm. During one of our tournaments, he was having trouble getting his head in the game. They told him to protect his goalie and by God, nothing got by that kid during that game. So when in doubt about his focus, give him a job to do.
- During practice if you can’t get him to pay attention, feel free to bench his butt. I’m told that you aren’t really allowed to do that, so if you don’t want to have that argument with the league, feel free to have him skate laps. It will settle him down. Or at least keep him busy.
- Stick handling and puck control are where he needs the most work. That kid will skate like he was born with blades on his feet, but things go pear-shaped when you add the stick and puck combo.
- He loves playing defense. And he’s good at it. Don’t feel you have to rotate him through the offense positions to keep him happy.
- Boy #1 is your typical older brother. He is a leader. He’s used to being the boss. I have to figure as an adult this is going to be a wonderful thing. Right now, it can be a bit of a challenge. Just remind him to take care of his own business rather than worry about where everyone else should be and things will be just fine. Being the oldest it also means that he’s our guinea pig for all things parenting related. You’re our very first atom coach.
Having written this out, it makes him seem like his heart is not really in the game, but the fact of the matter is, he’s just a nine year old boy. He’s busy and curious and so very active. The trick to it all is to channel that energy.
As his mom, I wish you good luck and a wonderful season. I will do my very best to stay out of your way and reinforce what you’re teaching him when he’s off the ice.
Here’s to a wonderful season. I can’t wait to see what he learns this year.
Skate hard, have fun.
See you at the rink.