Monday, April 26, 2010

Advice From a Net Vet Mom

Jacob, at age 8

For what it’s worth…my advice to new goalie parents…

by goalie mom Diane Pelton

As I sat down to think what advice I would like to give to goalie parents just starting out my first thought was, “save up your money!” But in all seriousness, start by realizing that your son or daughter is taking on one of the most demanding, high pressure positions in all of sports. When a goalie
makes a mistake it ends up on the scoreboard for everyone to see. They have to make split second decisions that immediately affect the outcome of the game. I have learned many things watching my oldest son Jacob grow both as a young man and goaltender.

One of Jacob’s favorite goalie coaches (Mitch Korn) always starts his camps by talking to parents and telling them to be “seen and not heard.” I have witnessed many goalie parents walking from end to end standing behind their goalie watching every move, or shouting from the stands. Can you imagine going about your day with someone observing over your shoulder? Of course not, so why would you do it to your child? Sit in the stands and resist the urge to yell out, “watch out,” or “pay attention," or “you should have had that one!” If your goalie is looking at you, they are not focused on the play in front of them!

Realize right from the start that a shut out is hard to come by, and it is not all about the goalie. Good defense has a lot to do with how “good” your goalie looks. At first, when he was young, my son thought he should stop every puck and would get upset when he couldn’t. Over the years he has learned that his goal is to keep his team in the game as long as possible, giving them a chance to win by not giving up any “soft goals.”
Goals will happen, and when they do help your goalie to develop mental strategies to put it behind them and focus on the next shot. Once the puck is in the net, getting upset and loosing focus isn’t going to change it. Chances are the game is not over and the best goalies are the ones that can keep their focus.

One way parents can help their goalie is by keeping track of what type of goal was scored on them. If they are struggling with a particular skill or type of shot, a pattern will emerge and your goalie will know what to work on in practice. As they get older they can do this for themselves, but they might need help taking through “how could I have played that differently?” Encourage post game analysis, but don’t turn it into a lecture in the van on the way home. Be honest! Tell them when they play great, but also tell them when they could have played better. When Jacob was young his dad and I had the “three things rule”. After a game we would tell Jacob two things we saw that we thought he could have done better and one thing he did well. Eventually this changed into him telling us three things he thought about the game! Don’t let your goalie play the blame game! They are the last line of defense, regardless of mistakes the team has made. Once the puck gets to them, it is their job to try to keep the puck out of the net! Another part of the blame game is learning to ignore comments from other parents. It is tough to watch a game when your child is having an off day in the net, let alone listen to others comment that your kid looks like Swiss cheese today. Remember every player has a bad day now and then. Keep it in perspective; the next game will be better!

I know sometimes it’s hard to watch. We want to protect them. But chances are if your child has chosen to become a goalie, they are much stronger than you think. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the game…for what it is worth!

Jacob, age 14, still in the net!

1 comment:

  1. Great advice from a cool-headed goalie mom. Jacob is a talented goalie and has obviously benefited from having such great parents, who get it!