SUNDAY Q&A #8 “TEAM GAME”
Q) My son has always loved goalie and he mentioned to me this year that he does not feel part of the team sometimes and almost wanted to move to player. Do you have any recommendations on what to say to him? He still wants to be a goalie. Is this a coaching thing?
A) I do believe that this comes down to the influences in your child’s life, including his coaches.
Being a goaltender is an oddity in a team sport. You are, for the most part, on your own out there. For every 1-2 goalies on a team there are 18-20 skaters. By default, this leaves the majority of coaches unable to understand what a goalie has to deal with on a day to day basis and most coaches will have no way of being able to help a young goaltender psychologically. They simply have not had the experience.
We must reiterate to our young goalies that, although ‘alone’, they are certainly still a part of the team philosophy. My advice would be to reach out to a coach and have an honest conversation and express your concern. Chances are he or she isn’t being malicious- they simply don’t understand how to handle a goaltender. The easiest thing to do for an inexperienced coach in this situation is to leave the goalie alone, send them to the net and tell them to just stop the puck. Minor sports should be fun. First and foremost. If a kid isn’t having fun, a good coach will find a way to make things more enjoyable.
Be open and honest. I am certainly not saying to interfere with a coach, or how he is doing things, however a conversation expressing your child’s feelings should be no issue. Depending on his or her age, this is also something that the player should feel comfortable enough to bring up with staff.
Something as simple as including the goalie in warm-up skating drills that require no pucks, leading an off-ice warm up before a game or running the team stretch as practice begins goes a long way for a young goaltender to feel like they are a part of the team and are being leaned upon as a leader.
Keep everything positive on your way to and from the rink. Remind your goalie that you win as a team and you lose as a team. Although a goalie may feel the pressure of being the last line of defense, there are 5 other players on the ice. Affirming these thoughts in a young mind goes a long way and will only grow stronger as your child matures.
Building your son or daughter up to be confident and in-control of their emotions is a life lesson that should be taught as early as possible. Goaltenders certainly have a jump start on this psychological process.