Colorado Rubber

Colorado’s and Utah’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

Setting goals, setting expectations: What’s the difference?


Leafs_Logo_jpeg_smallIn the early 1970’s while dreaming of playing for the Finnish team Jokerit, Jari Kurri was collecting NHL cards with dreams of stardom.

Over a decade later, my best friend and I regularly teamed up in his cul-de-sac as the most dynamic duo in NHL history – he was No. 99 (Wayne Gretzky) and I was Kurri. We were dreamers playing street hockey as members of the Edmonton Oilers – those dreams created an unwavering passion for the game, which helped shape lifetime goals.


Dreams are the fuel to ignite passion, and passion is the foundation for setting goals, not expectations. According to Dr. Jim Taylor, an internationally-recognized authority in sports and parenting psychology, goals are possible accomplishments that may or may not be achieved. Expectations are assumptions of achievement.

John Sullivan, the founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project, defines two types of goals. Process goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Forward moving goals are hard to measure, at times not very specific, and are rarely timely, but are crucial to energize children and allow them to dream big. Without process goals, forward moving goals are rarely achieved. Parents and coaches must understand the cyclical relationship between dreams, passion and goals, and separate these concepts from expectations.

The expectation of success by parents removes forward moving goals and dreams from the equation, adds a tremendous burden on children, and can have a detrimental effect on both confidence and passion.

Parents MUST separate their dreams from their child’s.

These parental dreams often lead to false or unrealistic expectations that usually have negative or fatal consequences for youth sport participants. To instill passion and help teach the importance of goals, we must encourage kids to dream big. A recent video produced by Scotiabank for the 2017 World Cup of Hockey titled “Hockey Dreams” (search YouTube) is a wonderful promotion of this philosophy.

— Shaun Hathaway

Free Website Hit Counter
Free website hit counter