Hockey Tournament Weekend Survival Guide

Hockey Tournament Essentials Every Hockey Parent Needs

Hockey tournaments are a big deal to hockey families. Unfortunately, veteran and newbie hockey families alike fall victim to the miseries of the hockey tournament weekend: forgotten equipment, scrambling for meals, getting lost on the way to the rink… just a few of the hockey tournament misfortunes that can befall the hopefully happy hockey tournament family.

To make sure that a hockey tournament weekend goes off without a hitch – okay, maybe not without a hitch, but at least well enough that you all still like each other when you get home – we’ve developed the ultimate guide to hockey tournament essentials.


What to Pack for the Hockey Tournament Weekend

Just like going on vacation, when getting ready for the hockey tournament, it’s important to have a checklist of what you are going to need – essentials and optional items. The checklist comes in handy on the days leading up the tournament and also afterwards, when you are packing up and getting ready to leave the tournament to head home. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve returned home from a tournament and had to hit the local sporting goods store a few days later to replace forgotten hockey items.

Create your own hockey tournament checklist for both pre-tournament preparations and packing. Don’t forget to include:


Pre-Tournament Preparation List Ideas:

  • Skate sharpening – to ensure the best chance of the perfect sharpness for your entire tournament, get your skates sharpened right before the tournament by your go-to skate sharpener. When you are at the tournament and realize you need them sharpened, you’ll be at the mercy of available time and nearest location of skate sharpening and it may not be the quality you are used to. A tournament is not the time to be testing out unfamiliar skate sharpening techniques.
  • Clearly label your equipment – At every hockey tournament, there are millions (or at least it feels like millions) of hockey sticks, skates and water bottles. Hockey players are not always the most careful about keeping their equipment safe and organized in the locker room. Who can blame them? Their heads are in the game. So, before the big tournament, label everything! That way in the locker room melee of packing up gear, your hockey equipment is easily identifiable. Personalized grips on your hockey stick can make your stick easy to spot in the hockey stick pile. Check out Sniper Skin’s hockey grips that can be personalized with the player's name and number.
  • Or Custom design your own unique custom grip with the GRIPtomizer tool. 


Hockey Tournament Packing List Ideas:

  • Any piece of hockey equipment you think you could possibly need - And backups, whenever possible.
  • Water bottle – Pack a water bottle for your player. Actually, pack two or three. And, label them and encourage your child (just this once) not to share. It’s flu season and we don’t want the entire team down all weekend with a 24-hr flu bug because everybody shared the same water bottles.
  • Lots of clothes for your player – Remember that clothes and socks will be wet and smelly after each game and therefore not re-wearable. Also, bring a garbage bag for sealing up those dirty clothes and their accompanying aroma for the ride home.
  • Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, backup deodorant, etc. These may seem obvious but are the most likely to be overlooked in the mad rush out of the house on the way to the tournament.
  • Hitting the hotel swimming pool – During the tournament, the players are going to have much needed, but limited, downtime. Usually, the hotel pool has an abundance of towels. But if that hotel is in a hockey tournament town, it is highly likely that they will run out of pool towels. So, when packing swimsuits, don’t forget to pack towels for the pool.
  • Heading to/from the pool – For getting back and forth to the pool with their friends, pack flip flops for your hockey player. You don’t want them walking with wet feet through the hotel lobby. One small slip could cause a broken arm or rolled ankle and missing the tournament entirely. Flip flops also come in handy for the shower at the rink.
  • Extra towel for your skates – When packing, make sure to include and extra towel or two for drying skates. Check out our blog on taking care of your hockey gear for more tips to prolong the life of your hockey equipment.
  • Fun stuff for downtime fun – Although downtime is limited, there is always some over the course of the tournament weekend, so bring some fun stuff: gaming console or handheld, headphones, a deck of cards, etc.
  • BYOS (Bring Your Own Snacks) – For before/after the game and back at the hotel room in the evenings, you want to bring a ton of snacks and drinks so you are not paying exorbitant hotel gift shop prices.
  • BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakfast) – If there are a lot of hockey families staying at your hotel, expect breakfast to be a zoo. So, avoid the lines and pack breakfast: cereal, cereal bars, fruit, oatmeal, milk, juice, bagels and cream cheese, etc. Check with your hotel to see if your room has a mini fridge, microwave, and coffee maker (and coffee).


These are a few tips and you can make your own checklist. Or, you can download the Sniper Skin Hockey Tournament Checklist and print it out! Don’t forget to actually check things off both when you pack to leave for the tournament and before you leave the hotel to head home.


Pre-Planning, Schedule and Weather

A few more tips to help make for a fun, non-stress-filled hockey tournament weekend…

  • Check the weather – Make sure you pack the right clothes depending on the weather. It might be light jacket weather at home, but the tournament town could be readying for a blizzard. Also, if the weather is bad, you should make sure you leave extra time for traffic and digging out the car.
  • Map it out – Make sure you know where your hotel and the rinks are located and how long the drives are. Also, check out where the nearest coffee shops and drive thrus are so that you can make a quick stop on the way to the game. You can also scope out sit down restaurants and maybe even make reservations and plan a team dinner.
  • Know the tournament schedule – Hockey tournament weekends are not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Know the complete tournament schedule and make sure that you schedule other necessities around it. You’d be surprised how quickly eating, sleeping and showering become non-essential when you are living the tournament weekend lifestyle.
  • Try to eat right, at least some of the time – When you are running around all weekend, it’s easy to let eating right fall by the wayside. But, it’s important to try to eat some proper meals throughout the tournament – so try to work it into the schedule. Nutrition is especially important for your hockey player on tournament weekend; they need the energy and stamina to play multiple games all weekend. So, plan out meals and snacks. Goalie Training Pro has a great hockey tournament nutrition schedule to check out.


Make Your Hockey Tournament Stress-Reduced with a Little Preparation

With a little preparation, planning and a hockey tournament checklist, your next hockey tournament weekend can be a relatively pleasant experience. This lets your hockey player focus on the games instead of how hungry they are or where they put their hockey socks. It also lets you relax and enjoy the games and appreciate the sport even more.

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