Sometimes it’s hard for parents to find the right words.
Especially after sports games.
Especially when you're also your child's coach.
When they're sat head-down in the passenger seat, their spirit sunken by one of sport’s all-too-common cruelties:
- confidence-shattering defeats
- the agony letting the team down
- harsh appraisals from coaches, teammates, spectators
As a parent, your soul searches for some magic words to lift your offspring’s spirits.
What can I possibly say to make you feel better?
Here's a 5 word solution.
Coaching your own child quotes
College soccer coach turned bestselling author John O’Sullivan travels the world teaching parents and coaches “how to raise happy, high-performing young athletes.”
But first and foremost he’s a sports dad.
When driving his son or daughter home from sports games, he came up with a phrase he now repeats on every journey — regardless of performance or end result.
It’s a simple phrase made up of five magic words, which every sports parent should probably commit to memory:
“I love watching you play”.
I love watching you play. Sounds simple. And it is, says John, when we catch up with him to ask more.
What's magic about ‘I love watching you play’?
“It just tells your kid that your love for them is not dependent on how they perform in sport,” says John, adding, “Which it should not ever be!”
“It’s a simple way for parents and coach-parents to deliver that post game moment and move on,” continued John, who learned the phrase from his coaching mentor, Bruce Brown.
“I don’t claim any originality in the idea of telling your kids ‘I love watching you do stuff’ — I’m pretty sure that might even be in the Bible!”
“But after I heard the phrase first, it really changed me as a coach and a Dad.”
How to handle the downhearted car ride home
John now helps parents all over the world offer support to their young athletes.
One scenario he focuses on is the universally challenging car ride home.
After a game, young athletes are exhausted physically and mentally. They can be fragile emotionally too.
In those tough moments, nobody benefits from a play-by-play breakdown of their performance, says John.
“If you’re going to talk about the game you can do that later on when you’re a little more rational and a little less emotional.”
Instead, by simply expressing a love for watching your son or daughter play, parents and coach-parents demonstrate their unwavering support that can quickly boost your child’s mood and emotional wellbeing.
“It keeps this consistency and helps your kids realize that playing soccer or basketball or whatever is something they do and not who they are.
“When they’re sat next to you, just tell them:
‘Hey, I just love watching you be out there. Today wasn’t really your day but you know what, I still love watching you play and I love being here with you. And I love being your coach. Now, what do you want for lunch?’
Try it out after your child's next game. Say it loud. Say it proud. Say it always:
“I love watching you play.”