The Ride Home
This blog is being shared from the newsletter of our training partner, “Play Like a Champion Today.” Once you go to a Play Like a Champion training session with CYC, you will be added to a list and receive these insightful blog posts on a weekly basis.
As coach and Play Like a Champion trainer Rich Hoyt notes in the video above, the ride home “is one of the most sacred venues in sports.” From their earliest youth sports participation through much of high school, athletes leave practices and games to get in a car with parents or family members. What’s said during those moments immediately following practice and competition can shape the entire experience.
Unfortunately, many kids report that the ride home is their least favorite part of sports. That’s because too many parents take this time to play coach, rather than simply be Mom or Dad. Focusing on a game’s outcome, the child’s performance, or even the mistakes of teammates and coaches can be detrimental to a child’s ability to process their experience and enjoy the game. Even with the best intentions, the ride home can turn into something like the example in this video from True Sport, a Canadian organization with resources intended to help parents create a positive youth sports experience.
A Better Ride Home…
We can all do our part to help make the ride home a positive experience. As Rich suggests in the video, there are a few key things parents can say to put the emphasis where it should be. Parents should reflect on the message they want to send to their children and try out the following statements:
- I love watching you play.
- I had fun cheering for you and your team.
- I’m proud of how you played with great effort during today’s game/practice.
- I really enjoyed the positive attitude you showed while playing.
- Let’s say a prayer of thanksgiving for your game today!
Parents can also focus on their unwavering belief in the power of sport for whole development by posing these additional open-ended questions:
- What do you think went well in the game?
- What new skill did you try to work on today?
- What are you most grateful for from today’s game?
- What made you smile during the game today?
- Are you proud of something you did today?
- What is one thing you did helpful today for your coach or someone on your team?
- Did you see God present in today’s game? How?
It’s also important that parents understand that sometimes, a simple expression of love followed by silence is what their child really wants. If that’s the case, parents should respect this “cooling-off” period and perhaps try to engage in conversation later.
These positive statements and open-ended questions can elicit reflection while demonstrating a parent’s unconditional love for their child. By using these prompts and keeping the emphasis on the joy of practice and competition, parents can make the ride home a unique part of a positive sports experience at every level.