What should the conversation be on the car ride home from a game

Founder of Changing The Game Project and professional athlete and coach, John O'Sullivan, explains how to have a positive conversation on the ride back home from a game and how to engage your children after sports activity.
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What should the conversation be on the car ride home from a game

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My friends Bruce Brown and Rob Miller from Coaching have done 30 years of Exit interviews with athletes and when asked, "What is your least favorite memory of sports?", the no.1 answer is, " the car ride home after games with their parents". This is the time when kids are physically and emotionally exhausted and they just want to unwind and yet this is the time so many parents choose to criticize and critique their kid's performance or the performance of the coach or the performance of their teammates. And this is probably the least teachable moment. So if you find yourself wanting to coach your kid the whole ride home, recognize that its probably not a good idea. If you're unsure, ask your son or ask your daughter, "What should I say to you on the ride home?" If they say, "Please say Nothing", then honor that request. Because that could very soon become their worst sports memory. If your kids do like to talk about the game, great! Let them lead the conversation, have the conversation. When they're ready to shut it down, shut it down and move on. Now I do think that there is one exception to this rule. That is if your kid does something on the field or on the court that would not be acceptable at home, like if they punch someone, if they kick someone, if they spit on someone, you deal with that right away, not as a parent trying to coach a kid but as a parent saying that is not acceptable behavior in our family. But other than that situation, if your kid doesn't want to talk about the game on the way home, wait till after dinner, wait till tomorrow, wait till you have the time for discussion. Just because you got them locked in a car does not mean its a teachable moment. There can be a temptation when your kid does really well to have this conversation, "Wow you did great today" and then say nothing when their team lost or they didn't play well. But think about the message that sends. I'm excited and value you when you win but when you don't win I'm going to be quiet and say nothing. So you're better off being consistent, say nothing, a high five after, "Where do you wanna eat?" are far better, "I loved watching you play." But just let it go. Unless your kid wants to have the conversation, unless they bring it up, just say nothing and you're on a far better track.

Founder of Changing The Game Project and professional athlete and coach, John O'Sullivan, explains how to have a positive conversation on the ride back home from a game and how to engage your children after sports activity.

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John O'Sullivan

Founder of Changing The Game Project

John O’Sullivan founded the Changing the Game Project in 2012 in order to help parents, coaches and youth sports organizations create a more child-centered sports experience for our young athletes. John is a former collegiate and professional player, and worked for 20 years on the youth, high school and college level as a coach and club Technical Director. He holds a USSF A License, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, and a US Youth Soccer National License. His blog is now one of the most popular youth sports websites in the US, and he has been a featured presenter at TEDx Bend Oregon, IMG Academy, and this week at the NSCAA Convention. The Changing the Game Project provides live and online parent and coaching education workshops, webinars, and consulting services.

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