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Last week we shared tips for parents on staying involved and productive at the rink or gym during tournament time. This post is focused on the players and offers ideas for keeping them engaged and safe during their down time at tournaments. Special thanks to the Hockey Mom in Canada community who shared many great ideas for the post.
Learn: Take advantage of the rest time by encouraging kids to watch the other games that are still going on. These are great teaching moments because you can reference game situations in real time. Have the kids watch other players in their position and point out what they are doing well, what they could improve on, or have them focus on broader concepts like game strategy and communication. If a parent videotapes the games you could use the time to review the film. Suzen of British Columbia says, ” The boys LOVE going back to the hotel and watching themselves on TV. They are great with positive constructive criticism about how they play the game and also share some fun laughs.”
Have Fun: The down time is a great time for team bonding and for the kids to get to know each other outside of competition. Jennifer of Ontario suggests coordinating a scavenger hunt to keep them fit and having fun. Arrange groups of two or more players and put together a list of questions for them to answer: How may stairs are in the building? How many types of drinks are they selling in the vending machines? How many change rooms does the arena have? Ask each group to answer as many questions as possible within a given time frame. Be sure to highlight rules for safety (e.g. no running, groups must stay together). “Not only does it keep the kids moving, but it also builds friendships as they work in pairs. At the end of the game, the kids are gathered together, relaxed and feeling happy so they are ready for their next game with a positive frame of mind.”
Young athletes can bring an MP3 player or iPod to listen to music or a DVD player to watch movies. They can also bring board games, video games, or cards to play with one another. Mini-sticks is a popular option for hockey teams. Depending on how much time you have, you could also take the players out for a fun excursion such as miniature golf, bowling, or laser-tag.
Nosh: With the athletes exerting so much energy in games throughout the day, make sure to keep them well fed. It is best to eat something soon after playing and to allow ample time to digest before competing again. For short breaks, be sure to pack healthy snacks and meals including energy bars, snack bars, fruit, fruit snacks, and sandwiches. If you have more time in between games, you could arrange a meal for the group at a local restaurant. Parents could also coordinate refreshments (shameless plug: this is very easy to do using the “refreshments” tab on TeamSnap) and have each parent bring a dish to feed the athletes in between games.
Unwind: It is great to keep the players occupied but you don’t want them to exert too much energy. Make sure that they do not wear themselves out by playing too hard during the down time. They could take a nap, read a book, or you could take them to a local movie theater or back to the hotel to relax for a few hours.
If you have other suggestions, please post your comments below. Good luck in those tournaments!