Do you remember how you felt when you saw the reaction of Brazilian soccer fans when their team was absolutely crushed by Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup?
You probably chuckled to yourself a little bit, but the truth of the matter is that Brazilians probably chuckle as well when they see footage of Canadians after our hockey teams lose in international tournaments like the olympics or the World Junior Championships.
We feel the pain of loss because hockey is in our blood.
We’re born worshipping the fabled chalice that is the Stanley Cup and as young children we picture ourselves hoisting the great silver mug above our head as champions.
Before any of that can happen, though - before we experience victory on the highest stage imaginable - for Brazilians, the World Cup, for us, the Stanley Cup, we have to make the team first.
Talk about pressure.
It almost sounds like too much to handle, and chances are you’re the parent of a young hockey player, and not the young hockey player himself who actually has to perform under that pressure.
Tryouts are right around the corner. Your child has spent the summer recuperating and training, and now it’s up to them to perform.
And it’s up to you to help them.
Here are the final 3 steps you can help your son or daughter take before tryouts start.
One of the most important keys to tryouts is setting realistic goals. This is more difficult to do at younger ages like atom because the other players trying out are still developing along with your own child.
In peewee and beyond, however, aiming for a certain team is important because it focuses a player when they hit the ice.
For instance, let’s say a player sets a goal to make an A2 team. This releases that player from the pressure of making an A1 team, and players normally play better when they can relax and focus on their performance instead of the results of that performance.
When hockey players ask coaches, parents and trainers for advice, it tunes their mind for performance.
Players can ask questions such as:
“What do you think I’m best at?”
“What should I focus on in tryouts?”
“What team do you think I should be aiming for?”
As long as you don’t ask these questions of a coach your son or daughter might be trying out for, the answers can boost a young hockey player’s confidence when they need it the most. A little extra guidance going into a stressful situation is always a good thing.
Once a player is feeling confident and has a clear head about where they’re headed, it’s important to address all the possibilities. In Major Midget Hockey and Junior Hockey, players are instructed to always have a plan B - the same idea applies to minor hockey.
If you don’t make this team, what are you going to do?
What happens if you’re released?
Are you going to work harder to improve your game?
Are you going to up your dedication level?
There are two roads a released player can take - they can either be a victim or a survivor. Above all else, these are the life lessons our children can take from tryouts.
On the flip side of being released, however: what happens if you make the team?
Are you going to be satisfied and coast through the first two months of the season?
Are you going to work even harder to earn extra ice time?
What are you going to do to help the team win?
Having a plan of attack after making the team is important as well.
For young Canadian hockey players, the start of hockey season is like Christmas morning.
Tryouts are a difficult time, however, if we embrace the opportunity we’re given to prove ourselves, then we’re much more likely to see the best in ourselves.