Hockey mom… you would think that after 3 years I would be getting used to that title. However, it still surprises me since I was not a very athletic child and didn’t play any team sports as a kid. I remember thinking “Should I let my kid play hockey? What if he gets hurt?” before we signed up for the first time. Well this year I will have 2 children in our local recreational hockey league, who both can skate circles around me on the ice. As someone who didn’t play a lot of sports as a child I was a little unsure of what to expect when it came to a physical team sport and how to make sure they stayed safe while playing. In this post I will be sharing why I think you should let your kids play hockey and tips for what you as a parent can do to ensure that they are safe and protected both from the outside and the inside, while on the ice.
After several years of hockey mom experience here is why I think you should let your kids play hockey (or any other physical sport they are interested in):
Benefits of Team Sports
The kids on the ice make skating look easy as they fly around, but as soon as they take off their helmets you can see just how hard they have been working, with their sweaty heads. Being involved in a team sport like hockey is a great way to get active, both on and off the ice. With 1 practice and 1 game a week the boys get some great physical activity without overdoing it.
Teamwork and Social Skills
Team sports are social games. Being on a team forces you to work with your teammates even if you don’t see eye to eye perfectly. Children need to learn how to work together, and with their coaches. Those relationships teach them how to handle themselves in social situations and develop a sense of camaraderie and community. I have seen Monkey grow both on and off the ice when interacting with his teammates.
Team sports require children to be aware of their actions and how they impact others. Self discipline includes both physical actions (like what position you should be in on the ice) but also emotional discipline on how to behave in stressful situations.
Building Confidence and self-esteem
Learning new skills and looking at the progress you make over a season can really build confidence in a child. Being part of a team and helping them reach the goal is an incredible way to help build up self-esteem as a child. Having the support of your coach and teammates who acknowledge when you put forth a good effort, from a great practice to scoring the winning goal, builds confidence in the sport and in life.
You win some you lose some
Team sports are a great way to teach children about winning, but also about losing. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Being able to share those highs and lows teaches important lessons. Sometimes regardless of how hard you try or how much you have prepared you don’t come out on top. Monkey has gone to the finals the last 2 years but hasn’t won either time. While losing those games was tough, they were great conversation starters about good sportsmanship, supporting your teammates when things don’t go well and how to handle and overcome disappointment. Having a team to lean on in difficult times is a huge benefit of team sports.
I have loved watching my boys play and grow when it comes to hockey and playing sports. I am by no means an expert in the sport, and I love that they are learning to succeed at something with other adults being the guiding force for them. I can be there cheering on the sidelines but they are learning from their coaches, referees, and teammates.
Benefits of having kids play physical sports and how to protect them
I am a firm believer that we can’t raise our kids in a bubble and the benefits of active team sports far outweigh the risks. However, that is not to say I don’t worry about their safety while playing. I feel like we are in a much better position now to reduce risk in sport then we ever have been before – especially with the innovation in safety and protection now out there. And I want them to know about safe play and practice, right from the start. Part of this means educating myself on ways to keep them protected from injury. Here are a few tips on how to keep your children safe while playing team sports.
How to keep your child safe while playing hockey
Protection from the outside
Hockey comes with a lot of “gear” to protect children while on the ice. Make sure they are wearing the right gear and that it is the right size. As a parent, know how the equipment should fit and teach your child how to put it on correctly. Check to make sure items like helmets still fit and fasten properly each season.
Protection from the inside
Until recently, defence against impact, a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in sport, has been focused on protection from outside the body. However, even helmets, traditionally worn for protection, are not effective in reducing traumatic brain injury because they can only protect the head externally. I recently learned about a protective device that got me thinking about this more.
The Q-Collar is a device that is worn around the neck and is designed to protect the brain from the inside. Understanding the limits of external protective gear in shielding the brain from movement-related injury, a team of doctors invented a device that helps stabilize the brain and reduce its movement inside the skull when exposed to impact or force.
So how does the Q-Collar work? When worn during sports activity, it applies light pressure to the neck, which in turn mildly increases blood volume inside the skull, reducing the ability of the brain to “slosh” or move around when exposed to head impacts, helping to protect delicate brain tissue. The Q-Collar is backed by over six years of clinical studies and scientific research, demonstrating its ability to help protect the brain from sports-related impacts. The Q-collar is to be worn with other protective equipment, such as helmets and laceration guards, for an additional layer of safety and peace of mind. Athletes, parents and coaches can find out more about the Q-Collar, how to measure for perfect fit and also place their orders online at www.qcollar.ca.
Play by the rules
Make sure your child knows the rules regarding hitting, checking and stick handling. All team sports have a set of rules that help make play safer and fun for everyone. Encourage your child to play hard, in a safe way for everyone to have fun.
Warm up and stretch
Prevent injuries by warming up before play and stretching out muscles to maintain flexibility. Strength and flexibility conditioning can reduce injuries over time. Putting in the work now helps prevent injuries later.
Don’t play through pain
While there will be minor bumps in any physical activity, kids should be taught to take a break if needed and not play through pain. Quick treatment can prevent an injury from getting worse. Check in with your coach, trainer or a doctor before getting back on the ice.
There are lots of benefits of team sports and with a few preventative measures they can be a fun way for your child to get active. We can’t have our kids live in a bubble, but we can give them to tools to be safe and thrive in a sports environment.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Q-Collar. All opinions are strictly own own.