Your son or daughter may just be the last line of defence between their team and the opposition. As a goalie, it is seen as their job to stop anything and everything that comes their way.
They are expected to be a Super Hero. That’s one HUGE task, or I should say ‘ask’.
You may think they’re brave and special because they’ve taken on the role of goalie. But what about the added pressure they have?
For example, Allyson Tufts mentions in her article ‘The Ups and Downs of Being a Goalie Mum’ that “children aged six, seven, and eight only focus for short periods of time. Expecting them to be on point and focused for more than the forty seconds they’re able too is just too much”.
The pressure that a child can feel, coming from those around them can be immense. They know deep down that once they strap on those pads, they’re it – the last line of defence that will make or break the game for their team.
Superheroes are not invincible, and neither is your child.
They will hear comments from other players, their Coach, parents of other players, team ‘fans’ that wants to lay the blame on someone when the team doesn’t win. These people won’t see you, child, in the same light that you do.
Is it, therefore, a good thing to see them as a ‘Superhero’?
I would suggest not. Although in a loving way what I’m guessing you’re feeling about them is that they are strong enough to manage the role they have put themselves in. And that in itself is commendable.
What can you do to support your child in this tough position?
- Help them to understand that the game outcome is NOT all on them. Often the Goalie is the one blamed when the team loses “because they let the puck in.” Okay, and where is the view that looks at the total picture. The one that includes the Defensemen. If we are talking TEAM then it will be a fall down in play somewhere up the ice that most likely led to the play that created the goal. This is about not having crazy expectations that say, the goalie must stop EVERY goal. There are others involved. Let them see the team breakdown that led to the goal.
- Superheroes don’t always know what their opponent is going to do Same goes for your child. Support them to see that every miss, or goal, is a learning opportunity. Talk about the play and what happened. What they saw, what they thought they needed to do for example, then work on getting them to try something different next time. All Goalies, even those in the NHL have a weak spot. Work with them on how to minimize the impact of that weak spot in their play. Support them to learn how to read the play and what impact that will have on their ability to stop that puck.
- Don’t see them as a Superhero. See them as a human being with feelings If I look at some of the Superhero movies, the characters are portrayed as dynamic and non-human, in a way. They are seen as not having feelings or human reactions to life. Is that really what you want for your child? Emotions will be strong, no matter what. The more you can support them to manage their feelings and express them, and if possible understand where they originated, then they will most likely be a true superhero because they will learn how to remain focused and not allow their emotions to interfere with their performance.
Love and support your ‘Superhero’ to grow emotionally. That’s the best gift you can give them. Then and only then will they be a true Superhero!
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Your game is only as good as your mindset. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mindset matters. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading.