What Not to Yell During Hockey Games


Faust hoch


“Number 10 you have to pass!”

“Cram it down their throats!”

“Ref, you’re an idiot!”


What do all these “cheers” have in common? They’re clueless.

My best friend yells “foul!” because she knows no hockey lingo, which is fairly harmless. But another parent gives super-specific advice that is kind of insulting. A player’s uncle doesn’t understand the sportsmanship we try to teach when he advises the team to rack up the score. Many spectators, parents included, forget to respect the officials.


Fortunately for hockey players, they’re wearing helmets and often behind glass. No matter what you yell, they probably can’t hear you. And it’s probably good that they can’t hear you because you might not being saying the same thing as the coaches.

The crowd around you, however, can hear you — and they may be offended by what you and your friends and family have to say. (I’m still holding a grudge against a guy who yelled, “You have to pass in that situation,” to my son, who plays the puck like a hot potato, when he actually worked up the nerve to skate the puck up the ice once. And that was four years ago.) You’re around these people a lot, during the season and over the years, so you’ll want to keep the peace.

Safe to Say

It’s safe to yell anything positive, without swearing or sarcasm.

  • Go! (Your go-to cheer if you know nothing about hockey.)
  • Stop him!
  • Great try!
  • Great pass!
  • Good save, goalie!
  • Nice shot!


The fastest way to make enemies is to criticize or laugh at other kids. You can bemoan your own kid’s play to your heart’s content, but you’ll be sorry if you start harping on others. Parents I’ve talked to admit to being embarrassed about saying — or irritated by hearing — the following:

  • Pass it to [insert number of your kid]!
  • You have to pass!
  • Terrible pass!
  • Not in front of the net!
  • Number [X] you need to…
  • Why didn’t you…?
  • What was that?
  • Hit him!
  • Terrible shot!
  • Puck hog!
  • You suck! (To a player or the other team.)
  • Coach, put in [insert name of you kid]!
  • Ref, you [anything]
  • &$?@ or *+!# or any other four letter word

Go negative enough and you may earn more than a dirty look or snide comment. Officials can toss offensive spectators and hockey associations can take action. If it takes some practice to bite your tongue, hang out by the glass rather than in the stands. In a later article, we’ll talk about ways to encourage positive behavior in your relatives, your friends and other fans.

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Kelly Anton for this article.



  1. Take this to heart. You will regret your negative comments!!!!! Been there, done that and I am not proud! Even though the refs may be dimwits sometimes, they're only human and no matter what you yell, you will look like the bad guy!!! Try to compose yourself – you will be happier tomorrow!!!!!!!
    From a mom who regrets yelling at a ref who recently pulled her son out of a game and did not penalize the other team for punching her son in the head!!!!! It is what it is – they have the power – take it to the league after the game!!!!!

  2. Hockey Mom, put a pair of skates on and try to ref. It is not as easy as you make it out to be. Thanks for being so professional and polite to the officials by calling them names and blaming them for everything that happened to your son. Wonder why kids and adults leave the sport as a ref, because of receiving abuse like you have displayed here on this page from players, coaches and parents.

  3. Hockey Mom too on

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    I think you're right on the money about the negative comments, however as the hockey season for kids is winding down and I have 2 sons that play travel hockey I have to say that for the most part what I have witnessed is pretty decent behavior by the parents. In fact so decent I wonder half the time if they are breathing, there has become such a "little league mentality" around kids sports anymore that parents just stand there and barely clap for fear of being seen as "that parent". You don't have to be nasty and you don't have to start out with "How Not to Behave". Your kids (both on your team and even the opposing team) might be a little less nervous, a little more enthusiastic if the parents and spectators spent more time watching the games, less time gossiping and criticizing, and just cheered for these kids that are, for the most part playing their hearts out. I have yet to see a single kid come off the ice not exhausted and dripping in sweat. Give it a try–cheer for all your kids, not just your own. Knock off the complaining and enjoy your children and their childhood–they only get to go around once.