The results of a thirty year survey given to collegiate athletes may surprise you. When asked, "What was the worst thing about playing your sport as a kid?" The overwhelming answer from these athletes was..."The car ride home with my parents." OUCH!
The study also showed that the major offenders were not the whacked-out, over the top screamers, but the parents that typically kept quiet during the game who could no longer keep their frustration in once the car door shut. The study also noted that nearly 70% of the kids that were involved with a youth sports team quit by the time they were 13, and one of the reasons for this was the fractured relationship with their parents due to the sport. There were even some kids that stated that they believed they could possibly get their parents back to normal, if they just quit playing the sport altogether... How sad.
This might be a time for all of us to take a breath and check ourselves. I know that many of us have pretty good insight into the sports that our kids play, and we may be correct that we even know more than their coaches. But, are we willing to risk our relationships with our kids, just to give them some advice before they even have time to take their jersey off? Truth be told, we also were probably not as good as we think we were, and time has allowed us to forget just how hard it is for a kid to be successful at a sport.
So, what is the answer? Just ask the kids. The kids in the survey said that the greatest thing that their parents told them after a game was "I love watching you play." The kids did not want to hear that their coach was wrong, or the Ref was blind, or that they should not have thrown a 3-2 change up...they just want to know that we enjoy watching them.
If you agree with this at all, make a pact with your child. Tell them that you do, in fact, love watching them play, and that you will do your best not to critique them right after the game. I am guessing that they will thank you and will enjoy THEIR sport even more.