I have been reading posts in some forums and wanted to talk about those in this post. The scenario is that your child’s hockey team is losing, badly and others watching the game are still cheering for the winning team as if it’s the finals and this win is a big deal. You wish that they would stop as you think it’s hurting your child’s team and doesn’t look good, from a fairness perspective.
This is a really interesting situation. One team is clearly more skilled at hockey, notice I didn’t say “better” because that is a label that is overused in my book. One team is clearly more skilled at hockey and that team is not your child’s team.
Okay. Isn’t that the fact, that is showing up by the scores on the scoreboard? Does that mean that your child’s team can’t play hockey – No! All it says is that the other team is more skilled.
How do you turn this situation around and support your child’s team in the best way?
Not the losing team
First of all don’t talk about losing or the loss. Find some great things that team members did, even small moves and highlight those. It might have been that they skated down the ice and were fast, or that they blocked a shot. However small, recognize it.
Secondly, talk to your child about how they are feeling. They might be down because they wanted to win. Or they are telling themselves they should have done better. This is monkey mind chatter, the inner voice that likes to tell a person how bad they are. And it’s not the truth.
Everyone has an off day. Everyone has to learn. Everyone isn’t perfect. So, in listening to them tell you how they feel about the game, notice their language and what they may be thinking about themselves or their other teammates.
Play back what you think you are hearing. For example, you can say “It sounds like you think you should have played better today” or “It seems as though you think Brad should have played differently today” and wait for their response.
What's the takeaway
The aim of this conversation is to help them see that today wasn’t the day for them to win the game. Today was a day for learning. What insights could they take away from the game, both with regards to their own game or for the team as a whole. There will certainly be learning experiences they can find that will help them in future games.
And in regard to the cheering by the parents or others, for the winning team. What is the problem, really? Perhaps it is that you feel sad that your child’s team is losing by so much and you don’t know what to do about that. Well, here’s an idea, next time this is happening, start cheering for your child's team more. Cheer for the small things they are doing, like skating, or their stick handling. Don’t focus on the scoreboard, rather the skills they are showing on the ice, the teamwork.Shift your focus from the win or loss and focus more on the effort. This way your child will learn that it is not about the win, but how they play the game that counts. And that if their mental game is working and they are not down on themselves during the game, great things can happen.