Motivating Messages (Hockey Mom Column)


My husband – always the silent observer when our kids were on the ice – made a point of sharing encouraging words to our kids before games. 

Phrases such as, "Play hard! Play Smart!" or "Work hard every shift!" reverberated throughout our household.

Simple. Effective. 

So how do we know when kids are heeding our pearls of wisdom? At the same time, carefully chosen words can pay dividends in your child’s development; but how does one settle on those words, especially right before a game?  

My fellow podcasters and I brainstormed our three favorites for an episode of "Our Kids Play Hockey." 

Here are some of our favorites:


1. "I'm going to love you, no matter what."  

This is a page from the late basketball great Kobe Bryant. The son of a former pro basketball player himself, a 10-year-old Kobe once went scoreless an entire summer while playing in a prominent league. Rather than offer a critique of his son’s game, or tips on how to score his next time out, the elder Bryant simply pulled his sobbing son in for a hug and told him, “Listen, whether you score zero or you score 60, I'm going to love you no matter what."

A father’s words not only motivated the son, but also gave him newfound confidence. That simple declaration of love and encouragement made Kobe unafraid to take chances, unafraid to fail.

We all know the rest of the story, as the Black Mamba eventually became not only better than his NBA-playing father, but one of the greatest of all time.


2. "Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard."

Put this one up on the locker. 

Attributed to basketball coach Tim Notke, it’s been used by nearly everyone, from Kevin Durant to former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.  


3. “Be a great teammate today”

 Help make them hungry for assists and give up the notion of being a selfish player. If your kid is a leading goal scorer, remind them they can make their teammates great too. Teach the importance of selflessness and sacrifice. Remind them – ‘A real star makes everyone shine.’ There’s a reason Wayne Gretzky has more career assists than anyone else has points.

 While these were just a few examples of our favorite maxims, remember – no words matter if your kid isn’t having fun and growing in some way.


Here are your some of your favorites:

“Skate hard, play YOUR game!” – Wendy Tulowiecki

“Play hard, have fun, don’t kill anyone!” – Chrissy Glunt

“The 4 F’s: Fast, Focus, Fierce, Fun!” – Dawn Marie 

“Have fun and play your game!” – Jacob Carlson

“Keep your head up!” – Beth Anderson Grogan 

“(When they have to be there an hour before the game) Going to Dunkin, be back soo, behave, I love you!” – Tina Macdonald 




Who is your favorite American player?
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