Today's question is:
"Why do we feel if your kid didn't start playing hockey/skating at age 3 he/she will have no chance of playing the sport?"
What a great question.
In a number of the other blog posts I have written here on Infamous Hockey, I have talked about comparison.
When we compare, remember, we look at our child and other children and we think that our child doesn't match up, or isn't as good as, that other child.
This is basically what you are doing when you think that because your child didn't start playing hockey/skating at age three they will have no chance of playing the sport.
Why Are You Thinking This Way?
And I am asking you in a serious way. Why are you thinking they can't ever be as good as someone that started skating early?
You are the one, in that moment, in your mind most likely, saying
- "they'll never be as good as [fill in the blank]"
- "they'll never skate as well as [fill in the blank]
Why? How can you know they will never be as good as that other child?
If you are honest with yourself, you can't.
And okay, lets go back to the space of talking about skill level versus mental abilities.
If you have a child that has spent all of their life since they are three years old, skating and then hitting a puck around, will that child have a lot more practice up their sleeve, than someone who didn't get on the ice till they were six or eight?
Yes, they have more practice. That's fact.
But, does that automatically make them a better skater or puck handler than someone who didn't start till six or eight?
My answer is NO!
The Impact Your Thinking Has On Your Child
If you are around your child always thinking or believing that because they didn't start early enough, they will never be as good as [blank] how do you act or react around them?
I'm going to guess, not so great.
You are the one that thinks that they aren't as skilled as that other child. It's you.
Does your own child think that way? Well, honestly they may if they're listening to you compare them and have them come up short.
And, if for some good reason, you aren't talking about this in front of your child, or have never voiced what you're thinking, then the answer to that question is that you child probably doesn't think the same way.
If no one ever said to me "You're not as good as [fill in the blank]" there is no saying I am ever going to think that way myself.
I'm likely to go out there and try my best day in and day out, for myself. To learn this sport, to play my heart out, because this is what I love.
Remember That Mindset Matters
The one thing you can do to support your child to be their best is to work on their mindset.
If the child that started skating at age three hasn't worked on his/her mindset, then no matter how great his/her still levels gets to be, sooner or later he/she will falter, because of his/her mindset.
You work with your child on their self-talk and how to work with and use their emotions. The skill work will come. They could be a natural on the ice, in skates. Or maybe it is something they have to master.
People master new things each and every day.
I would suggest you work on your mindset too, while you are at it. Don't see your child as missing something or lacking something. See them for who they are, right now on the ice, playing the game they love.
Help them to master their skills, regardless of others and the level they are at.
Support them with the mindset work and who knows where they will end up. The sky is the limit.
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. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading. #MindsetMatters