Winning is fun.
But for every team that wins, there’s another that loses. A great save is a missed goal for another player, and a shifty move around a defenseman means someone else just got worked.
Resiliency, by definition, is the ability to bounce back from something difficult. It’s how you react when the chips are down, or in our case, when you’re down by two goals late in the third period.
However, those “bad” times can be equally as powerful for personal and team development, said Maureen Sanderson, a Stillwater-based hockey player, youth coach and certified trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance.
“Hockey is a game of quick transitions that provide endless opportunities for little successes as well as multiple mistakes,” said Sanderson, who’s also an assistant coach for the Hamline University women’s lacrosse team. “The best growth often happens when hockey players are tested and pushed beyond their comfort zones.”
That’s another reason small-area games plays such an important role in development. In such tight areas, so many decisions – and sometimes failures – happen. And if parents and coaches are supportive of the process and their kids, eventually kids will learn what makes them successful and that’s when development happens.
Resilient kids will not only learn the game faster, but they’ll learn to love the game, too.
“Learning this skill is important for youth hockey players so that they’ll continue to enjoy playing the game they love – all while learning the life lessons that hockey provides,” she continued. “This comes from a combination of supportive coaches and parents who allow players to own and learn from their mistakes and then move on, instead of making excuses of why something didn't work out right.”
Sanderson, a member of the Stillwater Area Hockey Association Girls Hockey Advisory Board, said resilient kids are able to quickly and effectively move on from setbacks and mistakes and get back to the most important play – the next one. She teaches her players to focus on what they can control, which really boils down to three things: attitude, effort and practice.
“Anything else that happens during the game – like you missing a game-winning shot, a teammate being out of position, or a ref missing an easy call – is all out of your control,” said Sanderson. “Unfortunately, those ‘uncontrollables’ can end up distracting young hockey players from doing the little things they need to do to be successful.
“So, when they do happen – and trust me, they will – don’t sweat it. Focus on what you can control, remain positive, get back out there, and give your best effort.”
Both parents and coaches play key roles in helping kids focus, have fun and bounce back when the puck doesn’t bounce their way:
If You’re a Parent:
If You’re a Coach:
“The ability to bounce back from setbacks and mistakes is something we all need to have in order to navigate all aspects of life – school, work, family life, and sports,” Sanderson said. “Building resiliency now will help young hockey players go after what they want in life without fear of failure, because they will have learned that, no matter what, they’ll be able to get up the next day and try again, work hard and to do the little things that will lead to big success in life.”