What to say….On Game day!

Many parents spend large amounts of times in the car with their kids. In fact in some cases this may be the only time we get to have a 1 to 1 with them. My advice is keep your eyes firmly on the road and whatever comes from your mouth make sure it’s positive and reassuring. Thousands of kids arrive at their game feeling anxious and worried about losing or making mistakes.

The last thing you want is for your child to feel this way because of you. I have put together a list of, Do’s and Don’ts on game day:


  • Be calm and supportive.
  • Choose the right words.
  • Always ask if they are excited about playing.
  • When complementing, be specific about what they did and don’t be vague.
  • Leave the coaching to the coaches.
  • Take their focus away from performance and winning.
  • Ask if they have played the team before and if they know any of the opposition.
  • Try and make your child arrive at the game relaxed.
  • Be calm and make light of things.
  • Try and have a laugh on the way.
  • Talk about your time playing team sports.
  • Take note of your child’s mood before a game. Do they like to talk about the game, to be more relaxed or would they rather talk about something else?
  • Try not to talk about the game if your travelling long distances. It’s best not to discuss the game at least 2/3 hrs before hand.
  • Focus on effort and getting them to do their best. Things they can control.
  • Say, ‘Try to have fun’ and ‘Play with s smile’
  • Ask how your child how you can make them feel relaxed before a game. Some children prefer not to talk and maybe, just listen to music on the way.
  • Focus on the here and now.
  • Do teach kids to support one another regardless of what happens.

 “Remember when saying something, the words you use are just as important” 


  • Don’t make them anxious the day of the game.
  • Try not to focus on things they can’t control, such as winning; scoring a goal of keeping a clean sheet. These are things they can’t control. If they don’t deliver on your comments they might feel you will think less of them.
  • Talk about winning or losing.
  • Interfere with what the coaches instructions. There might be a reason why they asked them to do a particular thing.
  • Refer to previous games against the opposition.
  • Speak about how good or bad the team (opposition) is.
  • Compare them to others players. Children develop at different stages and the last thing your child needs is to get the impression you think another child is better than them.
  • Talk bad about individuals on the team. Sports is about team cohesion and negative comments from a parent can break that connection. Children can forgive each other very quickly but they will always remember how an adult made them feel. 
  • Be aggressive on the line, shouting or raising your voice. Children will mirror what they see from adults and this can have a negative impact on your relationship later in life. .
Children don’t value winning as much as adults do and sometimes parents get caught up in thinking about their child, firstly as a player and secondly as a son or a daughter. If your child teams losses don’t make that feeling any worse by going over the game with a post-game chat. Most of the times, the words ‘I love to watch you play’ are what’s all they need to hear, regardless of the result.
“We look at wins and losses, and fail to search for happy faces, and proper developmental environments”
If you want your child to relax, then you must relax too. If you want your child to play with a positive mental attitude, then you must have a positive mental attitude.  If you want your child to bring the right attitude and mindset to the game, then you must bring the same mindset.

Smiling, joking and having fun will always help you child to relax.

The next time you attend a game, be relaxed, calm, supportive and positive. This will rub off on your son and/or daughter and the people around you!


*Give your child (player) freedom to make mistakes and try new things, allow them to discover on their own.

*You can work together on certain things, since real effort is one of the most effective ways to increase self-esteem.

*The best thing is to offer sincere, specific praise rather than making vague generalisations.

*Sometimes, a wink, pat on the back, thumbs up or even just quick squeeze conveys a lot more than words or simply say the words, ‘I Love Watching You Play’.

*The most important thing to remember is the game belongs to them; so let them take control of their experience and don’t keep offering an opinion.

*The sooner you release your child to his/her game, the quicker they take responsibility of it.  Sometimes silence is the greatest help of all.

*If you’re not having fun you can be 100% sure your child/players are not either.

“The Ride Home After the Game: It has always amazed me how a moment off the field can have such a detrimental effect on it, yet when we think about it, the toxicity of the ride home makes perfect sense. Emotions are high, disappointment, frustration, and exhaustion are heightened for both player and parent, yet many parents choose this moment to confront their child about a play, criticize them for having a poor game, and chastise their child, their teammates, their coach, and their opponents. There could not be a less teachable moment in your child’s sporting life then the ride home, yet it is often the moment that well intentioned parents decide to do all of their teaching” – Changing The Game Project


Recommended this week to read: 5 Messages Your Kids Need To Hear also don’t forget, ‘Changing The Game Project’ talk on Friday the 29th August. ****Buy a ticket today and bring a friend for FREE****


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

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