Growing A Hockey Mindset - Part 1

Growing A Hockey Mindset - Part 1

In this two-part series I am going to talk to you about the key elements of growing a hockey mindset in your child. And the mindset I am talking about is one of positivity and fun.

Watching incredibly young children you might notice they want to try everything as they learn to master their motor skills.  They are eager to do things, things they have never tried before. And they try them, a lot of the time without doubt or fear of not doing them well.

The reason, they haven’t yet learned not to trust themselves.

It doesn’t take long though before all that changes, whether that is a few short words from a parent, or interaction with teachers, friends, other parents, and beginning sport with a team and a Coach.

 As you have read in other articles I have already written, there are many things that begin to kick in that stop a child’s belief in themselves and my hope with these two posts is that you will realize and understand what things are important, and how to notice when they aren’t present in your child’s daily life so you can reverse that.

Here are the first four key elements:


If you remember for yourself the excitement of trying something new for the very first time, and then remember what it was like to lose that excitement. It tends to fade quickly at times, and it only takes one small gesture to change things and take away the excitement.

We all love feeling excited. It’s what has us awake and up extremely early on days when we would otherwise want to sleep it. It’s the feeling of getting dressed in heavy clothes with hats, boots, scarf, and gloves to go outside in the freezing cold to play, because that’s what we love to do.

Another word for excitement is joy. And even as a grown adult I’m sure you know what that feels like.

Excitement will bring a sense of joy and eagerness, or enthusiasm to play the game they are learning, or love.

That’s why it is an important aspect of a hockey mindset. With excitement the other three things I will touch on shortly will easily be achieved.


Seriousness has a way of shutting down excitement, eagerness and enthusiasm. Whereas fun is what makes these three things thrive.

When you have fun you allow yourself freedom, the ability to do your best and be okay if you make a mistake.

You enjoy what you do, whilst laughing and letting that unconscious ability that is innate in all people shine through.

I don’t know how many times I have heard the NHL players in the Colorado Avalanche talk about having fun when they are out there playing hockey. You win games when you have fun, because you are at your best no matter what is happening.

So if you don’t hear the word fun mentioned by your child when they talk about hitting the ice, or practicing or going to practice, then there is something missing. And it’s important to help them to find the fun in what they are doing again.

Willingness to give it a go

I initially had ‘willingness to try’ and then I realized that it’s not at all about trying. Trying means you have to work at something, and working at it, takes the fun and excitement away.

Yet, with a willingness to ‘give it a go’ and maybe that’s an Australian term that you may not be familiar with, but it’s all about allowing yourself to do something and fail and be okay with that.

When you ‘give it a go’ you might try playing right wing and realize that it’s not the spot for you. So, you shift to defense, for example. It’s that ability to not beat yourself up for trying and not getting it.

I’m not going to use the word fail, because there are no mistakes, simply miss takes. You give something a go, it doesn’t work so you happily try something else.

Notice when you read those how you feel? There’s no pressure, no shutting down of the feeling of freedom or joy, there’s just an openness to have fun and do what you do.

Belief in ability

Lastly there is that belief in your own innate ability. This one is a little harder to hang onto, especially when you have others telling you that you aren’t succeeding, or not doing things ‘right.’

In previous posts I talked about pressure and how children will stop believing in themselves, through their own story of themselves that arises.

I see an humbleness in players such as Cale Makar, who is a natural at playing hockey. He not only believes in himself and his ability, he has fun playing and being part of the team, he learns each and every game and he succeeds and is seen as a great player, even though he is very young still.

He believes in himself and his own ability to do what he loves, play hockey.

Help your child find and keep their belief in themselves and their own ability. It’s their natural talent that will shine through with that and THAT will be what has them go places in this great game, if that’s what they chose to do.

Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. 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.
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