How to Ensure Emotional Wellbeing after the Game

Generally, youth sports are fun, character-developing opportunities that enable players to find a love for exercise. Yet, the rate in which players drop out after the age of 13 has drastically increased in the last decade. In fact, 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13, but why is that? There are, of course, numerous factors that come into play, but according to Changing the Game Project, the car ride home after the game can be a make or break moment for many young players.

After a particularly bad loss or performance, children are already critiquing themselves. They don’t need to hear further negative critique from their parent as well. With that in mind, here are a few tips for all parents to keep in mind on the ride home.

  1. Give your child space. If your child’s team lost the game or his/her performance wasn’t great, don’t comment directly on the results on the game. Let your child reflect and recover from the match on his/her own. When he/she does want to talk about it, listen supportively and patiently.
  2. Work through the game together. What could have went better in the game? What could he/she have done differently to get a different result? Have this discussion hours after the game when your child has had some time to cool down. Let your child lead this discussion as you don’t want to appear too critical of your child’s performance. Instead, help your child reflect and develop an action plan to learn from this experience.
  3. Offer supportive affirmations. Remain positive, let your child know that how much you enjoy watching him/her play, that there’s always a “next time,” and that at the end of the day, “it’s just a game.” Most importantly, let your child know that regardless of what happens out on the field, you’ll love and support them no matter what.