Welcome back to the Ten Rules series where we examine Lloyd Percival’s list of How to Establish Rapport with Your Athletic Child. In the first post, we looked at the background of Percival and his involvement in developing The Hockey Handbook. Now we look at each of his ten rules and how they may (or may not) pertain to you and your young hockey player.
Rule #5 Don’t live through your hockey player.
Try not to re-live your athletic life through your child. You fumbled too. You lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times and you were not always heroic. Don’t pressure your child because of your pride.
Sure, they are an extension of you, but let them make their own discovery voyage into the world of sports. You can help to calm the water when things get stormy, but let them handle their own navigational problems. Expose them to sport and lead them lightly but don’t try to push them in the direction you want for them. You gave them life now let them learn to handle it, enjoy it.
Athletic children do need their parents, so don’t withdraw. Just remember there is a thinking, feeling, sensitive free spirit out there in that uniform who needs a lot of understanding, especially when their world turns on them. Find out what your child is all about and don’t assume they feel the way you did, have the same attitude or want the same things.
In recent years the NHL has seen an influx of players with NHL fathers. Both star and journeyman hockey players seem to be raising more than their fair share of young men who have succeeded in making the difficult leap from minor hockey to the ranks of the NHL. Many National Womens’ Hockey Team players also have fathers who played NHL and international hockey. The Botteril, Sutter, Parise and Foligno families have all nurtured healthy aspirations that translated into successful hockey careers and they are certain to soon be joined by more legacy athletes.
I suspect that there was little or no pressure placed on these young athletes to follow the path taken by their hockey-playing parent. In fact, these parents are all too aware of the tremendous challenge facing a young hockey player aspiring to play at an elite level. The fact ism former NHL players don’t need their sons and daughters to succeed where they themselves failed, a need that can cause parents to lose perspective.
Hopefully the pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow for a player who makes it to the NHL does not affect the way a parent approaches their son’s hockey career. It certainly doesn’t factor in when raising a female player today. But many parents of young hockey players tried and failed to make it to the NHL and there is a concern that they will push their children too hard. Consciously or not, they may try to make their kids into the hockey player they never were. These are the parents who should be reading and re-reading Lloyd Percival’s fifth rule, committing it to memory and constantly reminding themselves how important it is to encourage children to enjoy the kind of career in hockey that the child aspires to and not one that the parent imagines for them. The world of minor and junior hockey is competitive enough already. Don’t make your child compete against your achievements, or expect them to overcome your failures.
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