10 Commandments of Elite Goalie Parents
Every parent wants to be their child’s hero. If you could wave a magic wand and help your child accomplish all of their hopes and dreams, I know you would in an instant.
Without a doubt, you want nothing but success and happiness for your child. And since they’ve chosen an incredibly challenging (and rewarding) path by being a goaltender, you have a challenging and rewarding job, as the goalie parent! In fact, a goalie parent is the only job harder than being the goalie!
Goalie parents have a significant effect on their goalie’s success. And, by helping goalies become their best, we’ve noticed that parents often need coaching and guidance too.
Unfortunately, most parents, especially the ones who “really want to help” their goalie, are actually hurting their goalie’s development.
We want to help you become a hero for your goalie. So, we’ve gathered the best ideas, attitudes, and mindsets, which we’ve found help parents become their child’s hero, and shared them below.
In fact, we believe they’re so important that we’re calling them our “10 Commandments of Elite Goalie Parents.”
Here’s to you becoming your goalie’s hero!
1. Thou Shall Be Your Goalie’s Biggest Fan
No exceptions! You must 100% without question, on good days and on bad, be your goalie’s biggest fan.
This means you provide unconditional support and encouragement.
Bad game? Pick three things they did well and talk about those.
Cut from a team? Build their confidence back up and help them find a new team.
You must help them see all the greatness in themselves. They’ll look to you for life perspective.
To be successful, they must believe in themselves. And YOU must believe in them for them to believe in themselves.
And don’t fake it. Goalies are smart creatures; they’ll know!
“My dad gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.”
– Jim Valvano
2. Pull Don’t Push
Have you ever tried pushing a string? It works terribly. It gets all bundled up and it’s a mess.
But if you pull a string, it will go perfectly wherever you want. The same is true for your goalie.
Countless parents have told me, “He just doesn’t work hard enough.” Or, “She just doesn’t care sometimes. What can I do?”
The brutal reality is nothing. You’re pushing a string. It may move a little, but your goalie will only achieve their highest potential when they take control and “pull the string” themselves.
You cannot, under any circumstances, force your child’s success. No if’s, ands, or buts about it. It MUST come 100% from them. Their hockey journey is way too hard with way too many obstacles to be pushing a string. It may only be pulled.
The fastest way to ruin your goalie’s love for the game (and your relationship with them) is by pushing them.
You cannot push them, but you can help them pull by being an Elite Goalie Parent (ideas in #3).
3. Be Resourceful
We know that we must PULL our goalie, but how do we do that?
Time: Give your goalie undivided attention to talk about their game, to throw tennis balls at them, to listen to their ideas, and to watch hockey. Investing your time to help them love the game is the best resource you can provide.
Transportation: Help them get to practice and any related activities, like pond hockey, showcases, or tournaments. Whatever they want to do, help them to do it. That support alone helps make you a Goalie Parent Hero!
Gear: Don’t buy the latest and greatest every six months, just make sure they have protection. We had some tight times growing up, and I never had the newest, best stuff, but I always had gear.
Goalie-Specific Training: Goaltending is an entirely specialized position, so how can you help them get the specialized coaching they need? Find the BEST coaches possible.
Love: Help them build a love for training and practice. Encourage them. Go watch their practice. Cheer for them. After all, you are their biggest fan! You’ll never have to push if you help them love to pull!
4. Find 3 Good for Every Bad
Based on a lot of research and a lot of experience, it’s far more effective to focus on what your goalie is doing well than on what they’re not doing well.
We don’t want to ignore weaknesses, but I bet, right now, you spend at least 80% of your time talking about what didn’t go well.
A far more effective strategy is focusing on what did go well and building on that.
Challenge yourself to have three positive topics for every negative one.
Focus on the good if you want more good. When your goalie has challenges, those become exciting opportunities to improve and move closer to their goals.
Most goalie parents do the opposite; they have three (or more) bad topics for every good one. You get what we focus on, so focus on what you want. Focus on the good at least 80% of the time.
5. Adopt a Growth Mindset
An invaluable research study by Carol Dweck revealed that the mindset your child cultivates is the biggest predictor of their success. And you play a large part in what mindset your goalie develops.
According to Dr. Dweck, there are two types of mindset: growth and fixed. We want to have a growth mindset.
Summarized quickly, a growth mindset focuses on the fact that skills can be developed. Challenges become opportunities to grow. On the other hand, a fixed mindset suggests that skills can’t be developed, so challenges become brick walls that can’t be overcome.
Unfortunately, parents often make the mistake of focusing on a result. How often have you said, “Nice win! You’re a great goalie!” Of course, your intentions are good, but what happens when your goalie loses? Following that logic, they’re no longer a great goalie…
There are some deep-rooted, science-y explanations for it but, basically, we always want to focus on what our goalie controls, such as their work ethic, attitude, and perseverance, and praise those actions. These areas of growth lead to long-term success.
“Nice win! You must have worked really hard.”
6. goalie PARENT
At Cornell, guys used to joke about being “student-athletes” and that since “student” comes first, we should focus primarily on that.
In your case, we can take this seriously. You are, first and foremost, your goalie’s parent, before you’re a goalie parent. The little (or big) kid under all that gear needs a parent.
Your child has all sorts of fears, doubts, and worries. These insecurities are why you need to be their biggest fan and why you must believe in them more than they believe in themselves and why you’re a parent first.
They don’t need another critic, they don’t need another coach, and they don’t need another analyst.
They need a parent.
They need someone who listens to them and gives them love and support.
They need to know that whether there was 10 GAA or a shutout, you will love them just as much and treat them just the same.
That’s what Elite Goalie Parents do.
7. Don’t Coach
One of my goalies and I always joke about coaches who say, “I don’t know goalies, but…” and then they proceed to tell you a bunch of things to do.
Parents are guilty of this too.
Pay attention, how much are you “coaching” your kid? Unless you’re an elite goalie yourself (and if you “think” you are, you’re not), don’t coach!
Love and support. Don’t coach. At best, your goalie KNOWS already, and at worst, you’re violating your most important role – love and support.
No matter how bad you wanted them to save that puck, your goalie wanted to save it even more. They know what they did wrong and they’ve been beating themselves up over it for the past 30 minutes.
When you come in and ‘coach’ them, they feel like you’re against them too. They don’t need another coach, they need you as a parent.
Be a parent! An Elite Goalie Parent.
8. Listen Don’t Lecture
I’m sure you have great ideas and you know a lot. And “if they would only…” all of their problems would be solved. But have you ever heard that they don’t care what you know until they know how much you care?
This holds true for you, too, parents. Lead with love.
But more than that, there are probably ten things that happened that you didn’t realize because you weren’t in it. Strap on the pads sometime and see how difficult the position actually is!
The players move fast, and the puck moves faster.
I’m amazed at how easy goaltending looks when I break down video in slow motion on my couch and watch the clip 10 times. But in the heat of the moment, it’s way more complicated and complex. It’s actually amazing anyone saves a puck.
If you and your goalie are discussing the game, try listening and not lecturing. “It seemed like this happened, Johnny. What did you feel?”
You’ll be amazed that they feel what you felt plus a whole lot more that you had no idea about.
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason!
9. Give Them a Great Reputation to Live Up To
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your kid wants nothing more than to earn your love. And you want nothing more than to be their hero.
The best way you can be their hero is to give them a great reputation to live up to. Remind them how hard-working they are. Remind them that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
My dad always used to tell me that DI College is incredibly competitive and challenging, but “someone has to do it, and I think it should be you.”
From day one, I felt that I could be successful. That’s half the battle.
What does your goalie feel like he/she can do?
Remember, their feeling comes from all of your actions and words.
Why not give them a great reputation to live up to?
10. Invest in Your Kid, Not The Goalie
Hockey is not an investment in your financial future. (Feel free to laugh here).
It’s an investment in your child. The best return on your investment will be a kid who learns what it takes to be successful in life. They’ll learn the value of hard work, purposeful practice, teamwork, overcoming adversity, and so much more.
Almost every company wants to hire competitive athletes because they know the skills inherent in those athletes.
If you’re only being a goalie parent in the hopes of a scholarship or an NHL contract, it will permeate every comment and action you do and your kid will feel it. It will overwhelm them and will inevitably end their career (and hurt your relationship too).
The time, money, and resources you’re allocating for your goalie is significant. But you’re investing it in your KID, not the goalie.
One of the things in my life I’m so proud of is my relationship with my parents. This was 100% built through their elite goalie parenting throughout my hockey journey, and I’m forever grateful.
Don’t miss the point… Don’t confuse your child with a goalie.