Why The Car Ride Home Can Shape How Your Athlete Thinks About Their Sport
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The car ride home after a game can be either filled with lots of laughs, game highlight replays, and singing or quiet time, replaying your performance, and listening to your parents ask you what happened. Whether your athlete had the best game of their life or a difficult one, the car ride home should be a time to reflect, but even more so show your child that you are there for them no matter what. It is, in fact, just a game.
As a former athlete, I remember the long car rides home after tough losses. I used to dread them. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be dreadful. If you are driving your child home after a game use the time to let your child come to you with their own interpretation of the game. It’s important to let them analyze and digest their performance without any outside noise. Focus on providing support and being a good listener. If your child doesn’t want to talk about the game, good or bad, think about ways to get them to reflect.
One suggestion is to use positive reinforcement to call out a moment in the game that you thought they did well. Ask them what the coach had to say after the game. By asking what the coach says, it allows the player to think more about the entire competition as a whole and not over analyze his/her own performance but focus on the overall team.
If your child really doesn’t want to speak about the game, respect their space and ask if they want to listen to anything in particular on the radio. Let them know that if they don’t want to talk about it now, you are always there for them if they want to discuss at another time. It’s also great when teammates carpool to and from practices and games. It’s usually more conversational and an open dialogue when multiple players are riding together.
You can even coordinate and assign carpool duty using the TeamSnap app!
As a parent driving the carpool, again be a good listener but also look for moments to get a pulse on the kids’ general attitude around the sport. The most important thing is that they are enjoying it. For some players, the team aspect is why they continue playing. For others, it’s the memories of traveling to away games, out of state tournaments, and post-game pizza parties. Be part of these memories and encourage your child to use the ride home to remember the things they love about their sport. If they aren’t liking the sport anymore, this can also be a gateway into finding a new activity or sport they may enjoy more.