As kids take to the football or soccer fields, baseball and softball diamonds, or hit the gym for basketball, volleyball or gymnastics, chances are young athletes across different sports may have this in common: they will dread the drive home after the game.
Two former coaches surveyed hundreds of college athletes. Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching asked, “What is the worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?”
They say the overwhelming response was, “The ride home from games with my parents.”
Retired Major League Baseball player Chad Moeller says he sees it play out with the hundreds of young athletes he has coached.
“When these athletes were surveyed about the ride home and talked about what they wanted and needed from their parents, the biggest thing that they all said, that made them feel the best, was when their parents told them, 'I loved watching you play.' From a parent’s perspective, that's not difficult. We did,” stated Moeller in an interview from his indoor baseball facility, The Scottsdale Batting Cages.
The former Diamondbacks catcher says in the moments after a game, win or lose, kids desire distance. They make a rapid transition from athlete back to child. However, even the best-intentioned parents can make that ride home miserable by initiating a conversation about the contest.
So Moeller advises moms and dads to allow their son or daughter to "bring the game to you." If parents want to talk to their child about their performance, let there be a cooling off period. Wait until emotions are removed, the next day at the earliest. The next time a child heads to practice may be a good opportunity to bring it up.
He tells parents, “Chances are your child’s coach has already pointed out all the pluses and minuses. The kids get in the car after the game, they want to see you, their parent. They want to feel safe again. They want to know that you love them, no matter how they performed on the field.”