It’s been on the calendar for weeks: the big hockey tournament weekend. Whether local or out of town, organizing everything can feel like a Zamboni-sized task.

Don’t worry, though — we’ve got team-tested tips to help you with the hockey tournament weekend: organization & survival. The tournament experience can be as smooth as freshly flooded ice with a little planning.

Hockey tournament weekend survival: gear organization

First and foremost, you need the team uniform. Your safest bet is to bring anything and everything that has the team logo on it: the ‘home’ jersey, ‘away’ jersey, ‘alternate’ jersey, and so on. Pack plenty of extra clothes, especially undershirts and socks. And, if your young all-star’s equipment is getting a little smelly, check out our tips on washing and disinfecting it before they hit the ice.

You don’t want to arrive at an out-of-town tournament with only one elbow pad. Take a full inventory of the equipment bag to confirm the presence of each piece, from skates all the way up to the helmet. To avoid accidental mix-ups with teammates, be sure to label everything.

Hockey weekend away game survival: food!

While treats and restaurant food will likely be part of the plan, you’re still trying to fuel your young athlete to perform their best. Balance things out by providing healthy, wholesome foods that you know they will eat. Here are some simple ways to make healthy choices on the road:

  • Instead of visiting the arena’s concession stand, be ready with a stash of individually wrapped snacks, like granola bars or applesauce pouche
  • A hotel room with a fridge is a nice bonus, since you can fill it with nutritious options like fresh fruit and yogurt from the grocery store.
  • Booking a hotel with breakfast included is a smart move. Check the start time, though, as an early game might have you departing before it begins.
  • Bring a well-insulated cooler, plus a few reusable containers or resealable plastic bags to store food supplies.
  • Invest in a high quality water bottle that stays cold and doesn’t leak. Use the hotel ice machine to keep it filled and promote good hydration.
  • If your hardworking player likes sports drinks, save money by buying a multi-pack and bringing a few bottles with you.
  • Be aware of any food allergies among team members, especially if you’re providing team snacks or planning a group meal.

Players personal care!

You can help maintain everyone’s health and hygiene by bringing along a few key essentials, including:

  • Handwashing supplies, such as wipes, hand sanitizer, or liquid soap. These are especially handy when the public washroom’s soap dispenser is (of course) empty.
  • A “just in case” bag, customized for your family’s needs with things like basic first aid supplies, scissors, moisturizing lotion, and chewable kids’ pain reliever.
  • A small bottle of liquid dish soap for washing water bottles, mouth guards or food containers back at the hotel.
  • A stain-remover stick and travel-size laundry detergent, in case you need to hand-wash anything (pro tip: hang wet items over the shower rod to dry, or use the ‘clip’ hangers from the hotel room closet).
  • A pillow from home, so your player can sleep during the drive and get some quality shut-eye in the hotel.

Hockey tournament weekend: keeping siblings busy!

All family members are part of the team, so plan ahead for the sibling(s) on the sidelines. Here are some tips to keep them occupied:

  • Pre-stock an ‘arena backpack’ with things like books, small toys, card games, and activity pads. Avoid bringing anything special or breakable.
  • Markers and a spiral notebook are classic choices, so siblings can doodle or make a sign to cheer on the team. They’re also easy to share with other kids looking for something to do.
  • Scout the venue ahead of time to determine if there is a playground or walking trail where siblings can take a break.
  • Screen time is a way to reward them for being a good sport on a long day. Don’t forget the charging accessories and a set of headphones! In case the arena wi-fi turns out to be unreliable, it’s wise to pre-download a few episodes of their favorite show.

Self-care for parents!

Don’t forget about yourself! Here are a few self-care reminders to maintain your sanity:

  • Map the area around the arena and hotel, and take note of the nearest pharmacy, grocery store and (most importantly) coffee shop.
  • An away tournament is a great time to redeem restaurant or beverage gift cards that you may have forgotten about, especially since you may be in a different part of town (or in a different city altogether). Treat yourself!
  • Avoid the stress of feeling ‘out of the loop’ by bookmarking the tournament website and monitoring the team’s communication app for updates.
  • Bring a cushion or clip-on bleacher seat for comfort, plus other cozy accessories (blanket, mittens, hat, insulated travel mug) to counteract the chilly arena air.
  • If you’re into photography or video, have your camera or phone ready to record the action.

Your child’s team may not end up hoisting the trophy at the end of the weekend, but we all know that’s not the most important goal anyway. It’s solid advice for hockey kids and their parents — just do your best and have fun!


Kristi York is a freelance writer and mom of two sports-loving boys. Her work has been published by ParentsCanada, Running Room, ParticipACTION and The Costco Connection.

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