Last-minute words before your child’s game may be the very words that echo in his head as he plays. If that’s the case, perhaps it’s a good idea to choose your words with care.
Let’s start with the things you should not say before a game.
“Don’t get hurt” admonitions could cause him to play in fear, which can add to his chances of getting hurt. Keep your worries and insecurities to yourself.
Let’s Get the Win!
This kind of cheerleading puts the emphasis on the result, not the effort. It also puts pressure on kids to perform. As they get older, most athletes automatically put that pressure on themselves. They want to win and don’t need you to remind them of that.
Remember What Happened Last Game?
Bringing up past mistakes is not what your child needs to hear as he goes into the game. Mistakes are to be filed away under “lessons learned” and not dredged up for motivational fodder.
Be Sure to __________
Last-minute coaching is rarely effective. Your child has prepared for the match in hours of practice and your car coaching will only put more pressure on him. It may even confuse him, if what you say is different than what his coach says.
Let me be totally honest here and say that I said this to my kids many times as they got out of the car, until I realized what a useless statement it really was.
Of course my kids were going to play their best. Of course they were going to work hard on the court. In a way, my admonition was almost an insult to them. I was assuming that they would choose NOT to do their best.
In my defense, I was only trying to motivate them to go out and give it their all, but in reality, I was fooling myself that those two words were really making an impact at all. Perhaps the better two words would have been “have fun!”
As you head out the door to your child’s game next time, think about your pre-game parenting. Are you doing a good job of helping to prepare your child to do his best in the game or are you putting thoughts into their mind that will distract them from doing their best and having fun while they play?