It’s funny, over the past five years I have noticed that every season has a motto….or a theme. At least when it comes to Boy #1. Over the past five years as a defense player there have been a multitude of learning opportunities for him that I hope he will carry with him into adulthood.
This year’s motto: Play your game.
You see, for my oldest player, he does best when we do a rundown of the game in the car on the way home. How did you feel? Did you have fun? If not, why? And it was during one of these chats that it came out. His team had lost for the first time in a while and we dug it down to the fact that they had started out strong but somewhere about halfway into the second period, they stopped playing their game and tried to play the way the other team played.
Didn’t work out so well for them.
Given that my oldest is on the cusp of the teenage years (and in the throes of the preteen years, God help me), this was a perfect time to drive home the lesson. So Play Your Game became the key point we always came back to this season.
I think Dr. Seuss summed it up nicely:
And here’s what I want all three of my players to know as they grow up and begin to navigate the world: They are unique. They bring something special in the world. And whatever that might be, it is worth sharing. The Atom team we were on this year was special in that the kids played well together from the beginning. They learned quickly how to play to each other’s strengths. And they won because of it.
When they tried to play the more aggressive game that their opponents played, they lost.
Play your game, and you will have the best chance of winning.
The coaches on this team knew what their players were capable of. So the practice plan was designed to work at that level and push them just a little bit past it each time. When you play your game, your coaches, teachers and mentors are able to help you get better. So for this season it meant that practices were a little more complicated, a little more challenging for our team. It had to be, or they got bored. As a parent, having my player come out of practice sweaty and with a smile on his face is exactly the goal of sports.
When you play your game, you show the world your potential.
Have you ever worn a piece of clothing that is your size, but the cut just isn’t right? You spend the day fussing and fidgeting just trying to get comfortable in whatever piece of clothing you’re wearing?
Hey, kid. When you try to play someone else’s game you are trying to wear something that just isn’t you. The beauty of our Atom team wasn’t that they were aggressive. They weren’t physical. Their game was strategic. They were fast. And when they used those strengths, the physical teams couldn’t catch them in the corners, or down the ice. The other teams played their game to highlight whatever advantage they have. Our advantage came when we played fast and strategic.
Play your game and everything just fits.
In an ideal world, it would be easy to learn and apply these lessons. But as parents, we know that it can be tough to stay the course when it looks like everyone else is winning. As parents and coaches, it’s important to always come back to this (however you may want to phrase it)
Play your game.
See you at the rink,