These days, it is all too common for young athletes, including and especially hockey athletes, to be overly anxious about their sport of choice and their performance within that sport. More often than not, this anxiety revolves around not making a specific team or not getting picked to be on a team at all.
If your young athlete is demonstrating these anxieties, then your first move should be to check yourself. Are you, as a parent, putting pressure on your child to make a certain team or to “be the best?” You might not be doing it intentionally or in overt ways, but if you are constantly dropping small hints about how wonderful it would be for your child to land a certain spot or be on a certain team, you could be creating pressure and anxiety for your little one. Stopping yourself and instead just focusing on the positive can quell a lot of those anxieties.
In fact, even if you are not putting pressure on your young athlete, being a positive, encouraging influence can be extremely helpful. If you catch your child worrying, stop him by reminding him of all the wonderful things he has done recently and by celebrating. Let your little athlete know that you are proud of him and encourage him to focus on being the best he can be, not on being on a particular team or achieving any one specific goal.
Finally, keep in mind that, when you notice your child worrying, criticism is definitely not going to be helpful. At certain times, constructive criticism can be useful, but when worries and fears are already high, do away with criticism altogether. In fact, don’t even focus on the sport to the point of criticism. When you catch your kid worrying and not being...well...a kid, it may be time to take a step back from hockey and to do other fun activities that don’t revolve around or have anything to do with the sport.
Yes, hockey can be “serious business,” but remember, your child only gets one childhood, and he does not deserve to spend it worrying or anxious over a sport that is supposed to be all about fun.