Travelling does more than exposing you to new culture…

Hockey Tournaments are an excellent form of team-building, not only for the the players, but also for the Parents and Coaching Staff.  

From the close bonds formed over playing mini-sticks in the hallway, swimming in the hotel’s pool or having team meals, there are many ways for teammates to get to know each other better.  This often has lasting and positive results back at the home rink.   

Similarly, Parents and Coaching Staff have a chance to blow-off some steam over a few refreshments.  

Whether the team wins or loses, there will always be memories that the players will be able to tell their friends about when they return home.

There are often a few great memories that Parents and Coaches will have too, but these will be left to your own imagination… 

So here’s a few tips to make the trip to an away tournament a little more fun:

Plan in Advance

Before you depart to the tournament it’s a good idea to know what amenities exist at the hotel.

Young Hockey Players need to have a great experience and they will be both hungry and in need of down time.  Does the hotel have a pool?  Do they have a free breakfast?  Do they have food available?  [For parents: Is there a bar? lol]

Do the rooms have microwaves and/or fridges? 

For larger families: Does the hotel have a cot available?

For animal lovers: Do they accept pets?

For Managers: Does the hotel have a banquet room the team can use as a way to keep everyone together and away from the regular hotel patrons?  This is also great for team meetings, Parent/Coach socializing and mini-sticks.

Meal Planning

Napoleon Bonaparte once said “An army marches on it’s stomach.”

Well, while you’re not at war by any means, you’re team will be battling hard out on the ice.  Having a team plan for feeding your players will be paramount.  This is where great Manager’s make it an easy process by identifying the meal times and locations in advance with consideration for the team’s schedule.

Greater still, the meal planning could be communicated in an itinerary sent to all Parents in advance.

It is suggested that Parent-volunteers are identified to assist the Manager to coordinate and order the meals.  These Parents can pre-arrange arrival at specific restaurants and get meal orders in advance from the Players and Coaching Staff to make the process run smoothly.

For example – after getting Subway sandwich orders in advance, appointed Parent-volunteers can pick-up, pay and deliver the sandwiches to the rink or hotel to reduce time normally spent at a restaurant when game times are tight.  

Example #2 – book reservations with specific team-friendly restaurants (i.e. Boston Pizza, TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut etc.) and get orders from your team that you can send to the restaurant in advance so they have meals and drinks prepared for your appointed arrival time. 

Note: There’s nothing worse than getting into a restaurant that’s unprepared for a large team.  You could end up wasting a lot of time and frustration over slow and eventually poor service.  Plan ahead to avoid the problem!

It’s also beneficial to have snacks available in the dressing room for between periods.  Fruit or fruit and granola bars with juice boxes work well.

Many Parents also like to bring their own food to the hotels to make sure their children eat well ahead of games.  Another idea is to bring your own toaster.

Equipment Preparedness

Make sure that you know where you can get ice skates sharpened.  

Usually tournaments are designed with a minimum of 4 games in the round-robin.  That’s a lot of ice time.  Add play-off rounds and there’s probably a point where the skates need a tune-up.

There’s also the potential for needing a replacement stick, forgotten tape or laces etc.

Have somebody determine in advance where the closest, best hockey-related sports store is and coordinate a run to get skates sharpened.  It’s often a lot better than having 15 parents individually making runs to do it for their own child. Just saying…

Make it FUN!

Tournaments can be a special and fun memory for children.  They often look forward to going, as they should!

If the experience is made overly negative, they will dread the next one.

Fun tips:

  1. If there’s a pool, find a way to build it into the schedule.  Serious teams have a tendency to cut swimming out entirely over fears by Parents and Coaching Staff that it will drain the kids energy.  On the upside, it will fill their spirit!…AND, there’s nothing better than when a Coach enters the pool and has safe fun with the kids.
  2. Find some activities for Team bonding. This may include going to a movie, having a mini-stick game or tournament, watching an NHL game on TV or going to see a local Junior hockey game etc.
  3. For Parents – bring some cards and get a poker game going, or Farkle etc.  Do something that encourages your own fun times.  You’ll have a long season together, so make the most of having a good time. 

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