If you’re like me, you’ve had the experience of searching online across shopping sites for something unique [ahem!] to gift a coach or teacher and have been disappointed. A search for “gifts for hockey coaches,” for example, turns up a ton of lists intending to be helpful.
The problem is these lists are crummy. Some results are downright wacky and tacky. Nearly 100% of the time, there isn’t a single item I’d want to give as a hockey coach gift. As a coach myself, I don’t want those items.
So, let’s have some fun!! I want to reverse the formula and create a best-of list of the Worst Gifts for Hockey Coaches.
First: What Hockey Coach Gifts Do Coaches Actually Want?
A serious note: We’ve conducted research at my company by speaking to coaches from sports across the board. We get consistent feedback on the best and worst forms of appreciation to receive.
The worst appreciation, according to coaches?
“Nothing” – not a note, not a “thank you,” no appreciation. Coaches (and most are volunteers, by the way) pour their love of the game and passion for teaching into our youth. They deserve to know they are appreciated.
The next worst gift is the gift someone wants to give but the recipient doesn’t want to receive. Feedback, anyone? Get it… the gift of feedback. 😂
Want to skip straight to hearing about the best hockey coach gift idea – ever that is the #1 winner 100% of the time? Then, please read our guide right now.
As you read this, ask yourself – Why is there so much tacky cheap stuff in the world?? Because people buy it. And I admit I have made purchases that I shouldn’t have.
So, in the spirit of being helpful and fun, below is a curated list of the worst, most terrible hockey coach gifts I can find on the web and an explanation of why. Please know this: no coach will ever make fun of an appreciation gift (and why would they?). This is more of a collective making fun of ourselves.
- I first hope to not offend – if you scour this list and (SUPRISE!) find that you have purchased one of these items, please don’t be upset with me for listing it here. Instead, let us know why this item called to your heart and the context so we can learn and be enlightened.
- If a link needs to be fixed, let us know. If you have received one of these gifts or given one as a hockey coach gift, please leave a comment and tell us about the experience. Please tell us your favorite and leave a comment why.
- Finally, if you know of a doozy of an item that should be on this list, please let us know.
The assumption is that the gifts below would be wrong if intended as a sincere show of appreciation. IMHO, they are better suited as a gag. Gag gifts require a deeper relationship with Coach, or the giver has an outlook on life that allows for such things. Without further delay…
Best List of “Worst” Gifts for Hockey Coaches, Ever
Worst Gift for Hockey Coaches #1: Hockey Style Mug with Net Enclosure
I put this one on top for several reasons. First, have you ever tried drinking out of a cup with a goal on the side of it? My face gets in the way – pesky face; why are you there?!?
Also, I’m concerned this one isn’t dishwasher safe – as in – I’m definitely going to break this.
The thing is, the more I think about this mug, it is kinda RAD. A little shelf across the goal acts as a rim for placing marshmallows, goldfish crackers, sunflower seeds, etc. you can flick them into the net and plop them into the mug. Is this an idea for getting my kids to eat beets and lima beans?
Yeah, “custom”! Because if there’s a service with a business model around selling a particular gift, it’s totally an original gift.
What gets these particular sandals on the list is a remarkable detail: the custom wording here is a velcro-style fabric strip attached to the actual sandal. The language and graphics can peel off and reapply. Likely, this design reduces the cost of customization since you must purchase a specific color and printing.
Consider the versatility here. Coach has options: face “Coach” outward, so others know who the coach is, or face the wording towards themself as a reminder – “Yah, I’m the Coach.” Mix and match as you like. I want to introduce you to a whole ecosystem of sandal covers.
Worst Hockey Coach Gift #3: Jason Vorhees Mask
Is it too obvious to suggest a Jason mask is in poor taste? I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. Maybe if it was signed by every player! Let’s take a moment to reflect that this Halloween movie franchise started in 1980 and has spawned 11 Jason movies. Summer camp will never be the same again.
The picture says it all, except the actual contents of this gift.
We did our research, so you don’t have to: One keychain with an inspiring quote: “Behind every player who believes in themselves is a coach who believed in them first.” One whistle with an inspiring quote: “A great coach is hard to find and impossible to forget.” A lanyard (for the whistle), a coach “word” sign (lowercase) in blackboard paint, and, finally, a blackboard pen (for writing on the coach blackboard word).
But wait, there’s more…
The best part of this isn’t the actual gift but rather the staging of the books in this product photo.
How do I best explain to my kids that INEDIA or breatharianism (yup, that’s a real thing) is the claimed ability for a person to live without consuming food and, in some cases, water? It is a harmful pseudoscience, and several adherents of these practices have died from starvation or dehydration. Look it up. Fascinating, really.
The other book is by Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey. But, again, I’m not going to say anything beyond that. When selecting books and authors for a photo shoot, know your audience.
Worst Gifts for Hockey Coaches #5: Hockey-Themed Home Decor
While this American flag looks totally RAD, I personally am uncomfortable with suggesting what someone else’s home should include, even when I’ve been to that person’s home. Also, I’m not a designer, and my decor is more about being practical on the level of IKEA Kullen.
This “Retired Since [date]” could be a subtle dig if the team didn’t do so well this season. Be sure to specify an appropriate back-date if there have been several losing seasons in a row to drive the point home.
Worst Gifts for Hockey Coaches #7: Personalized ‘Cooling’ Towel
While this picture is of a soccer coach where the ‘o’ is a soccer ball, there is a whole line of these with the clever use of the letter ‘o’ replaced with hockey pucks, golf balls, tennis balls… you get the idea.
And finally, here is an innovative and exciting gift idea:
Small Business Shout-Out: Hockey Puck Can Koozie
Disclaimer: I’m not joking when I say you should be thoughtful before suggesting an alcohol-related gift for Coach. Drinking is a personal one and must be responsibly considered. There are many alcohol “Coach” items on major purchase sites like Amazon, Etsy, and Pinterest. Before offering an alcohol-related gift, please be thoughtful and know your recipient’s sensitivities.
Now, that said, This guy in Buffalo, NY, uses a CNC router (a drill you can program with a computer) to hollow out hockey pucks to make can koozies. I’m not sure these insulate well, but I don’t think that is the point. I’m curious about what he does with all the ground-up puck leftovers.
Finally, if you’d like to know what our research tells us is the best alternative to the typical Hockey Coach Gift, read our guide. We have an easy and thoughtful alternative to cliched and wacky gifts at The Appreciation Company.