Adecade ago, I was working with a young goalie who showed considerable promise, despite his tender years. He had good athletic ability, terrific control of his body, super concentration, was very coachable and was willing to work his tail off. That’s not a combination of traits that you often see in an 8-year-old.
But there was one additional trait that "Danny" had that concerned me. He was consumed with winning. Every goal, whether it was his fault or not, was cause for a meltdown. He’d work himself into a lather, which always made me nervous. Because when Danny was in that state, his game fell apart, and pucks would start flying past him. In other words, his competitive streak was sometimes his own worst enemy.
Obviously, it’s one thing to compete, and it’s another thing altogether to lose your composure. So I found myself in the unenviable, and unpredictable, position of coaching a young man who was the polar opposite of many of his peers. Instead of slacking off, he worked himself to exhaustion. Instead of not caring enough, he went overboard. While we worked (and worked) on the technical aspects of the position, I made sure to spend more and more time just getting Danny to lighten up. To laugh. To enjoy the game. Because if it’s not fun, what’s the point?