6 things sports parents should not say in the car after the game

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/8/2014

What’s the conversation like in your car on the way home from your child’s game?

Something happens to sports parents when they leave the gym or field and get in the car. Doesn’t matter if your kid won or lost. Doesn’t matter if he started or even played. Somehow, the car ride home always seems to draw comments out of our mouths that we should regret saying.

If you’re not sure what your child wants to hear after a game, then at least back off from saying what he doesn’t want to hear.

Don’t doubt his effort

You didn’t seem like you were playing your hardest.

Were you giving 100 percent?

I’ve seen you play much harder than that!

Whether your child is in t-ball or college ball, he does not want his effort doubted. If he was not trying his hardest, it will make him mad because he already knows he could have played better. If he was trying his best, it will make him mad because he will feel he can never play hard enough to please you.

Don’t point out obvious mistakes

If only you hadn’t dropped that pass!

Too bad you missed that tackle.

Man, if you just could have kicked that field goal, you’d had the game wrapped up! 

Give your kid some credit. No need to point out the obvious to him. He feels bad enough as it is. He knows he messed up. Rubbing salt in the wound worsens the sting of his disappointment.

Don’t critique his performance

Your child does not want to be coached during the car ride home. He doesn’t want to hear that his footwork was sloppy or that his tackling form was off or that his passes were off target. There is a time and a place for coaching and critiquing, and it’s not on the way home after a game.

Don’t suggest the worst

Aren’t you afraid you will lose your starting spot?  

Before you gasp at horror, I actually did say that to my high school volleyball-playing daughter after one game – and immediately regretted it. It was, without a doubt, one of the stupidest things I’ve ever said to my kids after a game.

Needless to say, being a wet blanket parent who cloaks fears – Will my child lose his starting spot? Will my child suffer less playing time? Will my child get hurt? – with declarations of “being realistic” is really only being a negative Nancy who discourages and demoralizes.

Don’t ask a lot of questions

I like to ask questions, but I’ve learned that my kids don’t like to be bombarded with questions after a game. My volleyball-playing daughter wanted to talk to her father more than me after a game because she knew he would not be full of questions like I am.

He who holds his tongue is wise

Sometimes biting your tongue is the best thing you can do if you cannot refrain from saying things post-game in the car that will do nothing to help your child learn and grow from his sports experience.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Check out her Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series with survival guides for football, softball, basketball and volleyball moms.