How to Avoid the Dreaded Car Ride Home

Your player makes a mistake early in an important game that costs their team a goal. Ice time is scarce afterward and they hang their head walking out of the dressing room. What can you say to make them feel better? How can you get them to feel confident about their game again?

This issue of confidence is always a balancing act for parents. Learning to deal with mistakes is part of the game. 

“I think fear of failure is one of the biggest things holding people back, whether you’re 10 or 15 or 20,” Brenley Shapiro, a leading sports psychologist who is quickly becoming one of the major influencers in professional hockey, told the Total Sports Quinte Podcast.

“The reality is, hockey is a game of mistakes, and you’re going to make mistakes. The more you fear it, the more it’s going to impact your ability to play. The strategy I use is called the three Fs  … find it, fix it, and forget it.

“What did I do wrong, what can I do to make it better, and then you just move on.  So expanding on that from the parent’s perspective, there are so many things I do with parents but a big thing I will try to reinforce with parents is a focus on effort versus outcome.”

But there are certain criteria — goals, assists, ice time — that are measured around the rink as comparison points and it is hard for parents not to focus on those.

“When we’re outcome-focused, we tend to praise outcomes. You played so well today, you scored a goal, what a good game you had, and everybody is happy when things are going good,” Shapiro said. “Good games, bad games, we are going to have them all. The more they praise effort, what they do is create an environment for learning and growing and development. 

“As long as you’re putting in a consistent effort you’re not going to be judged on if you had a good game or a bad game. You keep working, you keep growing, and you keep getting better. Little by little, a little starts to become a lot.

According to Shapiro, most kids will have a much greater love for learning and development if they didn’t have to face fear outcomes like ‘what is going to happen to me if I don’t play well on that dreaded car ride home.’

“That would be another rule I have with parents, and often coaches have the 24-hour rule. I try to institute the same thing with parents too,” Shapiro added. “Don’t talk to your kids in the car ride home about the game. Kids are getting this whole post-game evaluation from the parents. They hate it.

“Parents challenge me with that they need to talk about it immediately to remember in order to go over this play or that. Write it down if you’re going to forget it, but it’s just not an effective time to be talking to your kid about the game. If they played poorly, they know that.”

If you are looking to contact Brenley Shapiro, she is available for consultation. Her company website is mentalgamecoaching.ca, and she is also building out a whole personal brand to help satisfy her passion of impact the world of sport. You can check out her new website which is BrenleyShapiro.com,. There’s lots of exciting new opportunities coming there!

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