Fear, worry, and stress are normal during a pandemic because so much is out of our control, but for many young athletes, this might be their first big obstacle to overcome. They may have learned how to deal with a bad call, a minor injury, or a tough opponent, but border closures, teams going dark, seasons getting delayed indefinitely, and all of the other uncertainty is having an effect on these players whether they admit it or not. They’ve been taught that when facing adversity, you win or lose, and up until this point, most of them have been able to win most of the time. The longer this crazy train rolls down the tracks, though, the harder it is to remain confident and keep going.
School is bananas right now with forced distance learning or a discombobulated schedule or maybe even both. Some teams are able to practice, and some aren’t. Some gyms are open, and some aren’t. You have to wear a mask everywhere now and follow decals on the floor. People are out of jobs, your favorite store or restaurant might have closed, there have been toilet paper and cleaning supply shortages, and everyone is arguing about politics. The weather has even been a little nuts. Before this nightmare, you had an expectation of generally how things were going to go, but now, you don’t even have your comfortable daily routine.
I’m willing to bet that all of them are worried about getting left behind, including the ones who are being lazy and saying they don’t care. They do. They’re just overwhelmed with all of the uncertainty, and they don’t know what to do with it. If they aren’t being lazy, maybe they are flying off the handle at every little thing. Again, they are overwhelmed, and they don’t know what to do with it.
Honestly, we’ve probably all hit the wall with this pandemic, so acknowledge your feelings about it. Know that they are normal and okay, and others out there are having them, too. Know that it’s not win or lose, but win or learn. Focus on what you can control. Remember that different doesn’t have to mean bad. It’s just different, and it can mean better. Take this time of craziness to make it your opportunity. Improve your eating or your study habits. Learn more body weight exercises that you can do anywhere. Improve your cardio. Work on your agility.
Know that every time you’ve hit an obstacle before this, you came out better than before. You learned something or maybe even several things. This time is like those other times in that way. You have probably already learned things, and until this pandemic is over, there’s a good chance you might learn more things. You are stronger than you think you are. You have survived 100% of the bad days you have had so far.
Be kind to yourself and others. The influence of your self talk has been well documented so keep it positive, and spread that positivity to others. Remember that hockey is family so pay special attention to your teammates, and help them out. We’re all in this together, and no one can do this alone. We have to help each other out.
Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Celebrate small wins because small wins add up to bigger ones. Push past the discomfort. You can’t get off the train, but you can get off the crazy, and when the train stops, even if you fall a little behind, you have gained experience that No one can ever take away. You will come back faster and stronger.
Author: Michelle Anderson
from Behind the Champ
Hello! I am a Minnesota hockey mom of 15 years with a son currently playing junior hockey. My son was 2 ½ when he saw his first hockey game, and he became obsessed with playing hockey himself. I thought, “He’s 2. It will pass.” It didn’t. I have to admit that I knew absolutely nothing about hockey when we first started this journey, but I learned quickly along the way thanks to all the other hockey parents out there. I also saw how much fun he was having so I joined a women’s league and learned how to play myself. The kids make it look a lot easier than it is, but it’s a beautiful game and tons of fun both to watch and to play, even badly in my case. I look forward to bringing you a hockey mom’s point of view to these shenanigans in the world of junior hockey.
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