Goalie parent the toughest job
My son knew when he was four years old starting our in hockey that he wanted to be a goaltender. I knew we were in trouble when I heard him ask his grandparents for “real goalie equipment” at such a young age. I quickly learned he was not in that net alone. Every shot he faced I faced in the stands. Being a hockey mom was one thing being a “goalie” mom was another! By nature goalies are a last line of defense which takes a certain type of personality to handle on a routine basis. The position requires a level of mental toughness unlike any other in sports (for both the parents and the player).
Goalies are taught to control their emotions and never make excuses. They are also taught that yes in fact the puck had to go through five players to reach him. My son is being taught to visualize the game and mentally prepare himself for what could go wrong. Trust me in his first game his team played a team from another rink and he faced a staggering 45 shots. (that is not a typo yes 45 shots) Imagine having your nine year old net minder dealing with that. He allowed 5 goals and at the end of the game was given the game puck from coach and a pat on the back from the opposing team’s head coach. His head coach told me that he knew our son was cut out to be a goaltender when after my sons leg pads were put on backward and when he butterflied during warm ups causing his knees to hit the ice. Later my son said mom ” this isn’t soccer we play no matter what.” Now that is mental toughness!
Don’t get me wrong to this day my son hates to give up goals. It is not his mental toughness that is in question at times it is mine. Goaltender parents are stuck in the stands after a goal, trying not to hear the whispers. They try not to make eye contact with the other parents. They have seen those angry eyes before and it hurts just to think about. Those eyes of course never see their child with the same level of judgement in the position they are playing.
The bleachers are a lonely jungle, and the goalie parents just want to get out alive. They can’t go out there and make the next save, or score the next goal. The best they can do is hope, but to hope is to live in the future. And no one has any control over that.
Goalie parents often develop survival techniques. Some stand alone in the shadows of the arena far away from other parents, but also far enough from the net so their child won’t make eye contact with them and pick up on their contagious stress. Some parents try to take control by yelling or making hand signals that their goalie has been told to look for. This unhealthy tactic takes a goalie’s focus away from the game and can also undermine the coaching staff. Some parents (moms more often than dads) don’t even watch the games. Usually this is a last resort after a handful of bad experiences at the rink when emotions got out of control. Most parents don’t have much of a survival plan. They watch the games and feel the stress.
I no longer analyze my son’s play as a goaltender, as after one post game car ride my son asked me what my record was when I played goalie…. I can’t even skate …. ENOUGH SAID 🙂