Welcome back to the Ten Rules series where we examine Lloyd Percival’s list of How to Establish Rapport with Your Athletic Child. In the first post, we looked at the background of Percival and his involvement in developing The Hockey Handbook. Now we look at each of his ten rules and how they may (or may not) pertain to you and your young hockey player.
Rule #10 Make a point of understanding courage and the fact that it is relative.
There are different kinds of courage. Some of us can climb mountains but are frightened to get into a fight; others can fight without fear but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas—nobody escapes fear and that is just as well since it often helps us avoid disaster. Explain to your youngster that courage does not mean an absence of fear but rather means doing something in spite of fear or discomfort.
Lloyd Percival was Canada’s first sport-scientist and one of the very best technical coaches this country has ever seen. He is best known today for his theories and writings on sport and coaching, but the athletes who were fortunate enough to have had Percival as a personal coach remember his remarkable ability to impart his knowledge of kinesiology, sport-science and psychology and how he was able to inspire them to be the best athlete they could be. Most importantly, they almost always credited Percival for the success they later experienced outside of sport.
Percival often said that most of the best natural athletes were not to be found in the upper echelon of sports; in fact many were not in sports at all. In an era when talent identification was primitive and long-term involvement in sport provided limited financial rewards, the best athletes were generally the ones most motivated to succeed. Percival believed the athletes who demonstrated “achiever personalities” were the most successful, but he fervently believed coaches were integral to that success, and that a good coach could help athletes who came to them with less confidence and determination find the inner strength and courage to succeed.
We are certainly better at identifying talent today, and we have a lot more skilled technical coaches than in Percival’s day. Still, the best thing a coach can do for the long-term development of the young boys and girls they coach is to help them discover the courage within and teach them how to use it effectively.
Coaches need to help kids understand that we all have fear and overcoming it will make them stronger. This doesn’t necessarily mean teaching them how to fight or physically intimidate; it might even mean helping them find the courage not to fight in the face of peer pressure.
The primary goal of all sporting activities should be to help young people find the courage to be themselves and to make the most of their abilities. If hockey parents focus more on this than whether their son and/or daughter is getting enough ice time or playing the right position, their children will emerge from their years in sports as confident and successful adults. Whether your child graduates to professional or international hockey, never play again or enjoy recreational hockey into their fifties, their lives and personalities will have been enriched by the years they were immersed in the cauldron that is Canadian minor hockey.
This is the final instalment in the series: 10 Rules for the Parents of Young Hockey Players (From: How to Establish Rapport with your Athletic Child, by Lloyd Percival). I hope that readers have gained some insight into this legendary figure in Canadian coaching and that the advice he offered to the parents of young athletes fifty years ago will benefit hockey parents today.