It’s time to start building connections.
Fall tennis programs have begun. Hockey tryouts are nearly finished. Winter maintenance has begun for summer swimmers. Athletes, coaches, parents, and teachers are slowly but surely funnelling into a schedule that will serve their passion for the next six or seven months.
And before you know it those six months will be history. Will you be able to say you and your family took everything you could from your experiences?
As a hockey coach, I’ve built my fair share of connections over the years. Case in point, a couple weeks ago a player I coached back in Edmonton six years ago called me after being traded to a team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League that rhymes with Shmindersley. This player was upset and searching for answers about why he’d been dealt.
So why did he call me? I haven’t seen him play in years, but we’ve kept in touch.
It’s an understatement to say the connection between an athlete and his or her coach is valuable. Most youth athletes will listen to their coach before their parents.
That being said, the parent is always right. The parent knows their own child better than any new coach. While the coach is responsible for a team of athletes, the parent is responsible for one individual.
The connection between parents and athletes is one that goes far beyond the basic necessities of food and shelter. When it comes to youth sports, parents have insight no coach could hope to possess.
Imagine your child experiencing a sudden dip in performance. It could be during games or matches or in practice. What’s happened to their serve? They’re really struggling with their 100m butterfly, what’s the problem?
Maybe there’s no problem. Maybe it’s just reality. It’s up to the parent to connect and ask the question.
The power of a community can boost any individual. For instance, we have a fabulously tight-knit tennis community here at the North Shore Winter Club. They play together, they spend their free time together, they party together.
Playing the game is more fun when you’ve got support from people you like.
Competing is not the same as execution. The process is not the same as results. When a young athlete enters a facility where they’re expected to not only compete, but to perform as well, it’s a lot easier to do so when they’re confident and comfortable. Parents and coaches have an impact on that confidence, but there’s a lot to be said for support from those who aren’t affected by an individual’s performance.
How do we connect with our community?
The most powerful connection a young athlete can make is with his or her teammates. When teammates hold each other accountable through their work ethic and dedication, it’s much more powerful than hearing it from a coach or a parent.
Every team is built on a blueprint. The specs can change, but in order to find success as part of a group, there are specific metrics that need to be met.
Teams are defined by the reactions of individuals. When a young hockey player reacts to an event with determination, creativity, and skill, that attitude connects the most eager athletes on the team first while the more reserved or tentative decide whether or not they’d like to follow suit.
Which they always do.
So, at this early point in the hockey, school, and tennis season, let’s do our best to connect with those around us.
You never know who you might find.