The only thing to say to your child after their game

I love to watch you play.

father_and_son_soccer_game

Lifelong player and student of the beautiful game in Germany, England, and USA. Volunteer futsal coach and USSF referee.

2 thoughts on “The only thing to say to your child after their game

  1. While i agree with the fundamental idea that i think you are espousing (dont tell youre kids what they did wrong, what they could do better/differently), i disagree with that being the only thing one should say. Here are my ideas on after-game chats, based on the last 4+ years of comp soccer:
    1. You have a post about “intelligent” soccer, and thinking on the pitch. A parent can support this notion by asking their player to think crirtically about the game afterwards. Did you have fun? Why or why not? Who played well today and why? Who played poorly today and why? How do you think you played today and why do you think that? Any ideas on where you could have done better/differently. Unfortunately many coaches today don’t seem do this with their kids – going back to your other post of coaches teaching what to do instead of being creative. Note, there is no “leading the witness” here with suggestions etc, it’s 100% asking the kid to think, out loud, about the game while it is still fresh in their mind.
    2. What aspect of the game do you think you need to work on after that game and how are you going to do that within the confines of your soccer practice?
    3. Is there anyting you can do to help your team play better? Includes how you react and act on the field, not just soccer skills etc.
    4. What did the coach say during/after the game – this is more to get them to remeber, re-iterate int heir owns words, as a way of making it stick rather than in one ear and out the other. Aslo a way to know what the coach is saying so you can support their conversations.

    Andrew

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    • Hi Andrew – thank you for sharing your thoughts! I discuss those topics with my kids (plus also review the game recordings with them), but I try not to do it immediately after their game (driving home in the car, for example). This has backfired on me a number of times – it just isn’t the right moment to analyze/discuss the game and my kids’ performance in my experience. I typically wait until later in the day (during dinner, for example) or, better, the next day. At that point I’m much more relaxed, less emotionally wrapped up in the game, and my kids had a chance to decompress too. My kids seem to be much more reflective and open to discussion at that point. Even then I keep a post-game analysis only to what is really necessary because kids simply don’t have the same attention span as adults and it’s easy to overdo it as a passionate adult. I don’t want them to start dreading these “post-game discussions” so if I can get them to think about one or two key items per game then I feel it was worth it. That said, there are also differences from child to child so there probably isn’t only one best approach. But at a very fundamental level I have come to believe that kids need strong positive emotional feedback from their parents, especially from their soccer dads. This is critical if a child is to continue enjoying the game and developing as a player as they become teenagers.

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