Ask The Mental Coach is dedicated to the “mental” part of hockey from both player and parent perspectives. Shawnee Harle takes your questions and provides feedback based on her experiences and training. If you have a question to Ask The Mental Coach, email us!
“My kid just got cut from his team. It was the first time he has experienced this kind of disappointment when it comes to hockey. What is the best way to offer encouragement? I don’t want him to get discouraged and want to quit.”
Getting cut from a team is what happens when we pursue excellence. If we don’t want to get cut, then tryout for a crappy team!! I once coached an athlete that got cut six times from a National Team. Six times! On the seventh time she was chosen. Imagine what would have happened if she hadn’t shown up the seventh time!
Disappointment and discouragement are normal feelings when we don’t get what we want. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to offer encouragement if your intent is to save your player from their feelings. Emotional intelligence requires us to feel our feelings, ALL of them. Plus, they are called feelings because we are supposed to feel them. What a concept! Hold space for your player to feel disappointed and discouraged.
Help them process those feelings rather than saving them from them. “I know this has been disappointing and discouraging. I feel those feelings with you. I want to hear about your disappointment. Tell me more.” Then you sit and listen INTENTELY without trying to fix or save them. You ask questions that help your player self reflect. Once you have helped them process the feelings, say something like this, “When you feel ready to bounce back, let me know, and I will share some great strategies with you. I will walk alongside and help you come back stronger and smarter than ever.”
And make sure you add LOTS of hugs!!
Once they are ready to bounce back, help them become a detective. A detective looks for clues to solve the mystery. What did getting cut show them? Where are their gaps? What does the player need to get better at? What’s missing compared to the players that were chosen for the team? Then you help them make a plan and get to work on closing those gaps.
BE. DO. HAVE. BE willing to DO what it takes to HAVE what you want.
Shawnee is a two-time Olympian with 26 years of elite coaching and leadership experience. Shawnee holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Studies, and she is a Master Coach Developer and Master Learning Facilitator for the National Coaching Certification Program, where she trains and mentors both advanced and novice coaches from all sports.