With all the news regarding NHL coaches amidst allegations of inappropriate comments or controversial motivation tactics, I felt compel to write this article not as a coach/trainer in minor hockey, but as a parent with a son playing his 3rd year and a daughter that will soon be starting her journey in hockey.
As hockey parents, we can have a big impact on our children and it is important to know how they are doing. We have the best of intentions in mind and want to have our children being successful. We want to see our children have fun on the ice, working hard developing new skills and create new friendships with their teammates. Unfortunately, with all the fun there are stress factors to watch out for that our children may fall into.
Here are some questions that I always asked my player’s parents or hockey parents in general.
- Do you know how your child is doing in hockey?
- Your child may look strong on the “Outside”, but what about the Inside?
- What is s/he is Thinking or Feeling about hockey either playing or the game itself?
- Lastly, Do you Really Think… You know how your child is doing?
There has been research that shows a great number of minor hockey players and the recent news of Pro Players are struggling. The negatives impact result will show these players often hide their difficulties inside that are overwhelming them on and off the ice.
What Are The Main Struggles These Players Have?
- Afraid to make a mistake
- Terrified to disappoint coaches or teammates
- Distracted by their coaches, friends and family
- Slow to recover
- Overly self-critical and stuck in an endless loop of negative self-talk
- Perfectionism and unrealistically high self-imposed expectations
Your child is confronting many things on the ice or on a daily basis outside of the hockey environment. These things are overwhelming their ability:
- To perform
- Fulfill their potential
- Achieve their goals and dreams
It may get worse, because of these on ice problems are just symptoms that will properly carry over off the ice by:
- Can’t fall asleep
- Feeling disconnected
- Excessive worry about the future
- Anger about their past performance
- The discounting of anything positive
For the vast majority of minor hockey players it all adds up to a hidden, or not so hidden – FEAR OF FAILURE that stands as a significant barrier to their ability to find success on and off the ice.
How can you help your child use their anxiety and fear of failure to transform into a high performer who thrives on adversity on and off the ice?
I have learned that many minor hockey players are reluctant to acknowledge stress or anxiety-related issue particularly when it comes to mom or dad. I trained many minor hockey players on a daily basis and my own son will not listen to me at times.
There is good news for minor hockey players and they have a unique opportunity…It is their drive to learn and to be better.
The majority of minor hockey players may not be motivated to address or talk about their general fear and anxiety with Mom or Dad. Nevertheless, as competitive athletes, they are highly motivated to improve their on-ice performance. This is a great motivation tool! Therefore, when they have mastered a new set of hockey skills their mindset & mental game will start to silence the inner body critic. The results will be as follows
- Overall improved confidence
- No fear of failure to perform on-ice
- Noticeable increase in improved skills sets
- Communication and engagement growth
- Most importantly, having fun on the ice and with teammates
When implementing a popper plan with the help of your child in a matter of weeks, you will start to have your high performing, fun-loving, less anxious and fearful child back again. On track to achieve their goals and live their dreams.
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