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Balancing Objectives: The Child’s Perspective vs. Parents and Coaches Views on Winning

Coaches and parents play a pivotal role in shaping a child’s sports experience, and the emphasis on winning can have a profound and lifelong impact. Unfortunately, some adults undermine the essence of sports for children by overemphasizing victory, compromising the joy of playing, and adopting a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality.

A common pitfall is pressuring children to specialize in a single sport at a young age, intending to further hone their skills through a narrow focus. However, this approach often leads to burnout, diminished enthusiasm, and even physical injury. with studies confirming the detrimental effects of early single-sport specialization.

In addition to pushing specialization, coaches and parents may resort to verbal, emotional or even physical abuse under the guise of motivation. This outdated tactic creates a toxic environment, overshadowing or drastically diminishing the child’s love for the sport.

It is crucial for adults involved in youth sports to recognize that these activities serve as outlets for children, offering valuable life lessons. Importantly, the reality is that more than 99% of children engaging in sports will never reach professional status. Therefore, the focus should shift toward creating a positive and supportive environment that fosters personal growth.

Sports allow children to understand and navigate social interactions responsibly, learn self-motivation for improvement and develop essential life skills responsibly. Prioritizing sportsmanship, teamwork, and the joy of play nurtures the child’s love for the sport, ensuring a more holistic and enriching experience. Coaches and parents need to remember that the ultimate goal is not victory but instilling a lifelong appreciation for the game.

This is not to suggest that winning doesn’t enhance the enjoyment of the game, or that voices will never be raised, or that there will never be repercussions for a lack of effort or disregard for authority. These are all lessons every child needs to learn as part of the life-skills development aspect of sports.

Coaches and parents must find the delicate balance between skill development, teaching self-motivation, and demanding effort while balancing empathy and realistic expectations. Understanding what motivates and demoralizes each individual under your tutelage is key to fostering a positive and effective sports environment.

Fostering a team of happy, informed, and eager players significantly enhances coachability. A coach who strikes the delicate balance required for team cohesion often surpasses expectations. Players experience accelerated development, making the season far more enjoyable. This philosophy extends beyond hockey or sports teams, resonating in all aspects of life, including workplaces. It underscores a crucial life lesson for every coach and parent: the holistic development of individuals transcends sport and contributes to a richer, more fulfilling journey for all.


Chris Dyson is passionate about hockey. He is an advocate for the ethical advancement of children in minor sports and on a personal mission to improve grassroots hockey by positively affecting 50,000 goaltenders and coaches: helping children to love the game, learn life skills, and continue playing longer.

He believes enjoyment of the game for minor hockey-aged goaltenders (and players) is paramount, and that this can be achieved through the development of better coaching skills and the elimination of unnecessary negativity, which will inspire confidence through improved play. He is a man with vision and perseverance who understands adversity and the benefits of good coaches very well. Despite facing formidable odds and harbouring the improbable dream of a hockey career, he has thrived for over three decades as a professional goaltending coach. Born with a congenital heart defect, he spent much of his childhood in hospitals, experiencing major open-heart surgery, multiple pacemaker implants, an alcoholic mother, and a deadbeat dad who disappeared when things got tough. This included over 100 cardiac arrests in a single day – few people survived even one or two at that time. Dyson is a published author and professional goalie coach/consultant, coaching students from 19 countries through his company, Puckstoppers Goaltending Development. His biggest disappointment is seeing so many young goalies quit the game they love because of misdirection, improper coaching, and a lack of empathy. His critically acclaimed and bestselling book, Target Practice – 8 Mistakes That Ruin a Love of the Game, was written to help coaches and parents better understand the Essential Core Goaltending Skills (ECGSs). Dyson is the visionary behind the world’s first and premier online educational training and certification system, exclusively designed to assist coaches and parents in understanding how to work with and develop goaltenders effectively.
He has also created a series of free online resources

FREE Download of #1 Bestselling book
Target Practice CLICK HERE

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