Understand that no child goes onto the ice with the expectation to play bad. Does it happen? Absolutely. Kids are not professional athletes, they have school, friends, playtime, dysfunctional families and sometimes worse, homework and other sports (I hope).
Issues that might seem insignificant to adults, but in their minds are huge. Of course, they are young people who have short attention spans and focusing for an hour can be impossible at times. Even the food they eat will effect their level of focus. So we have to be understanding and sensitive to their world and accept that THEY ARE KIDS. They will make mistakes and this is all right.
Support their effort and participation. Find out how THEY want to address situations like bad goals or poor games. Find this out by asking them and knowing our children. Maybe it’s something they simply do not want to discuss, maybe they need a cooling off period (always) of a predetermined time. Maybe a simple supporting comment and a well-worded question will open up the conversation.
There is nothing worse than a child who is afraid to make a mistake for fear of what mom or dad (or coach) might say or do because of it. We all learn from the mistakes we make and we all make them. Let your child make mistakes, help them learn from those mistakes and not be afraid to make them.
Remember who the game is for. It’s for them, not for the parents. There are many who live vicariously through their children and often turn every mistake into a devastating experience instead of a learning one.
My comment to parents is: The game is just that, a game. It should be FUN. We practice hard and train hard, so we can play better and enjoy the game more. We certainly want to challenge our children to do better, to build their desire to do well and improve their compete level, but most of all we want them to have fun and enjoy life and to look forward to things like hockey.
This holds true even at the highest level. Self motivation will have a far greater effect than external pressures. Building self esteem, confidence and desire through positive reinforcement and discussion will have a lasting, lifelong result.
The sun comes up regardless of a bad goal or a loss, if we win a championship or not – life goes on. Don’t make it bigger then it is, life is about growth, development, helping others, being part of a team, being proud of yourself, your accomplishments and how we interact with others and a lot more beyond the ice. Support their life, not just their hockey career.
I have seen many children who were terrified to make a mistake because they knew they had a car ride home that would be all about “WHY DID YOU MAKE THAT MISTAKE?!”. Instead of “did you have fun?”. Yes, we absolutely want to address the opportunities to improve, but in the proper manner that sets the stage for improved confidence, self esteem and desire.
Remain Calm, No Need To Panic
So many goalie parents sit in the stands with the look of sheer terror on their faces. relax folks and take a deep breath.
Yes, it is a tough position and there is no way to avoid the truth. When you make a small mistake the goalie gets the blame and for some reason so do the parents. Like it’s your fault. As the late Jacques Plante said, “How would you like it if in your job if every where time you make a small mistake a big red light goes on and thousands of people yell at you?”
Of course as parents we feel this too, sometimes even more than our children But at the end of the day it’s just a game. We all need to enjoy it and relish in the fact our children are playing a great game and we hope are having fun doing it.
Goalie parents need to mentally applaud every save and take the positives from each sequence. When the odd goal goes in, draw on all the positives you have seen and the fact your son or daughter is doing their best and playing the toughest position in all sports – a position most others can’t even begin to comprehend in its inherent complexity and difficulty.
Be proud of your son/daughter for taking up this great game and choosing to be the last line of defense for their teammates – the difference maker and the backbone of every team.
Celebrate their accomplishment at mastering the position to whatever level they have mastered it… and yes, I know it’s still sometimes harder to sit and watch than it is to play.