Are You Overestimating Your Child’s Abilities?

overestimating your child’s abilities

Avoid the trap of overestimating your child’s abilities



By Warren Tabachnick


Like most parents (especially of the hockey variety), you probably think your child is the best. You wonder why they are not on the first line or given more ice time… or why they’re not the starting goaltender. As a parent, it’s only natural for you to feel this way.

But let’s face it, there comes a time when every parent needs to step back and look reality square in the face. Unless you’ve actually suited up and taken to the ice or stood behind your players on the bench, it’s almost impossible to be objective in evaluating your child’s skills and talent to play the game. This is how you can fall into the trap of overestimating your child’s abilities.

Like it or not, our emotional attachment to our offspring impedes our ability to fairly assess their performance especially when stacked up against their teammates, of whom we can be much more critical.

The fact is your child’s current relative skill level may not hold up as they move on in their playing career. As they get older and move into higher levels, players just keep getting bigger. Also—heaven forbid—injuries can totally derail the trajectory of a youth hockey career, as can a simple change in your kid’s focus. Maybe they’ll find themselves getting involved with another sport or hobby, or with a love interest who takes up much of their time (they are getting older, aren’t they?). You get the picture.

If you see that your child is working hard and doing everything they can to improve but it’s just not happening, it’s a good indication that you are overestimating your child’s abilities and they’re not as good as you think they are. Your child’s coach might let you know that he or she lacks the ability to play a specific position (or even make the team). That doesn’t mean they should quit playing; it just gives you some better perspective.

In fact, if your child does possess noteworthy athletic ability, you can be sure those around you will let you know. Perhaps the best indication that your child has got skill is the reactions from his/her teammates.

It’s not so bad to be overestimating your child’s abilities sometimes. But if it causes you to react in a manner that creates friction with the coach or the other parents—not to mention your child—it’s time to look yourself in the mirror.

If on the other hand you truly believe your child is the next Sidney Crosby, get a second opinion from a qualified coach or someone who has played at a high level. They will know best if your kid has what it takes to move on.

Warren Tabachnick is the editor & publisher of You’ll find him on the ice, weakly.

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  1. My son is above average but not elite… He was awesome at the lower level but when he moved up it became more obvious he wasn’t the best of the best. He is getting better all the time but is lacking in size and can’t keep up with the cream of the crop. I’m happy that he is progressing as a second tier player and plays well at this level, not beyond for now. It’s all about getting these kids at the right level to enjoy the game.

  2. When people ask about my one son I always say he still sucks….people seemed shocked by that response too but I am 100% honest about my kids abilities. Hockey is not going to be his main thing. The other one is pretty decent but not the next McDavid…LOL

  3. Well stated. My parents did not overestimate my academic abilities. They’d seen my report cards! We’re working to bring that kind of transparency and clarity to youth hockey and other sports.

  4. Good article. I have played and I have coached but I still seek the advice from others regarding my own kids just in case I might be missing something, or have a blind spot to something. That said if I know I see something, and another objective coach validates what I think and the current coach he has says the opposite it can get very frustrating to say the least and that’s when even I struggle with the right way to handle things. I try and let the kids advocate as much as possible for themselves but I’m never sure where to draw the line if something overtly wrong is going on. Anyone else struggle with this?

    • Politics play a part and I know first-hand after coaching that opinions vary vastly. Some (most) are focused solely on a particular aspect of the game and not the game as a whole. Lots look at just the goal scoring and not the defensive effort and positioning. I’ve heard both parents and coaches totally think a kid is the next Sidney Crosby because of his goals, but look right past that he steals pucks from his teammates, and doesn’t pass or play defense. It is hard because even when evaluating the team with the other coaches, I’ve noticed completely different perspectives.
      I started coaching because I felt politics were screwing my kid… and I was right. However, my kid was better than his placement but not as good as the elite kids.

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