Elite hockey moms: Examining mental and physical health impacts of the demands of competitive minor hockey


Research has begun to examine the impact of the youth sport experience on parents; however, there has been limited research conducted solely on mothers of youth athletes exploring their mental and physical health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the various impacts of the demands of the youth sport experience, specifically boys' elite hockey, on mothers' mental and physical health including their physical activity (PA) participation and healthy eating practices. Thirteen mothers of male competitive hockey players participated in an online questionnaire and a semi-structured interview, which included questions about mental and physical health during the hockey season and the off-season. Results indicated that some mothers' mental health was impacted by the hockey season, while others indicated little impact. Furthermore, some mothers found it more difficult to be active during the hockey season due to the busy schedule, while other mothers were consistently active throughout the entire year. Various strategies for maintaining PA levels and incorporating PA in their daily lives were identified including being physically active with their friends/partners and working around their son's hockey schedule. The mothers also indicated that they tended to eat more junk food and ate together as a family less during the hockey season. While this research identified preliminary results, more research in this area would be beneficial. Findings from this study can provide practical recommendations for hockey mothers to incorporate PA and healthy eating strategies during the hockey season in addition to opening discussion about the positive and negative mental health impacts.