Highly successful college athletes in the USA were questioned as to what was their worst memory of sport growing up. The No. 1 response was ‘The Car Journey Home.’
Every week up and down the country the car journey home has now extended to the walk back to the car, the car journey home and the return back to the house.
I hear it every Sunday after a match, where most often than not the dad delivers advice on the way back to the car, they can’t even wait until they get into the car.
Why did you do that there? Do you remember when you got the ball off the goalie, why didn’t you pass it down the wing? Why didn’t you mark properly at the corner?
All the child is doing more often than not is looking down or drinking their water pretending to really listen when actually they probably wish the ground would swallow them up.
The car ride home is when the child just wants to quietly let the game sink in – whether a win or a loss.
They know if they’ve played well or badly. You don’t need to tell them.
It is their game and it is their invitation for you to be part of it.
It is not easy for a parent but we must remember that the sole reason that our children play sport and will stay involved in sports is fun.
Children want you to be a parent when they finish playing not a second coach. It is very little wonder that many children like their grandparents watching them play as more often than not the grandparents are very proud of them, smile at them and then at the end of the game tell them something along the lines of, ‘Well done- I loved watching you play! Did you enjoy it?’.
Perhaps if you still feel the need to talk after a game to your child that you could maybe ask them some questions that allow the child to reflect on the game/session that they have just been involved in.
What were the best bits of the game for you today? What did you think you did well? Was there anything that you were not happy with? What do you think you may need to work on to improve?
This at least allows you both to have a conversation, allows the conversation to be led by the child and guided by you. No more than that, just because your child has let you in with a chat does it mean that you have to impart all of your knowledge on to them.
Or perhaps we all should take a step back, be proud of what our children do and simply say to them ‘I loved watching you play’.