I was watching the kids play at the X this holiday weekend. Most of them were between 7 and 10 years old.
I was really surprised by the difference between adult beginners and child beginners. The kids were ALWAYS moving, whereas adults are often gliding and watching the play. Adults will more often reach for a puck instead of skating to it.
The kids also seemed without any kind of embarrassment–another huge difference. They fell down a lot–and got right back up again. They took a shot and missed… and instead of banging the stick, giving up, all that–they just kept working to score.
Their enthusiasm was amazing. Some were skating awkwardly, just like the adult beginners I see so often. But unlike the adults, they were going as fast as they could–legs and arms flying.
I think the biggest difference is self-consciousness. As adults, we’re very well aware of how we look, and we get wrapped up in “doing it right” or “looking cool” — both of which include a fear or at least wariness of failure, and sometimes trying to look like we’re succeeding without effort (while of course we’re obsessing about whatever it is: taking a shot, skating through traffic or anything else).
I think the kids–not only not CARING, but beyond that: completely unaware of how they look–were therefore more likely to be successful. They just kept trying and trying after a “failure.” It was almost like they didn’t know they had “failed.”
And maybe they hadn’t. If learning hockey means trying things, and if trying things means not always succeeding the first time, then no, they weren’t failing.
We have a lot to learn from the kiddos. “Being good at hockey” doesn’t mean “trying to look like you’re good at hockey” — it means pushing the comfort zone, falling down, trying something new and building from that. Instead of trying to LOOK experienced, the kids were skating hard, taking risks and GETTING experience.