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Ask the Right Questions, Particularly on the Car Ride Home

March 7, 2014    10759 Views

Paul Krome | @paulkrome

Ask the right questions, particularly in the car

Matt Kowal

Everyone can relate to the car ride home.

The trip after a game takes your son or daughter from playing a sport he or she loves with friends and teammates to a real world of homework, dinner, chores around the house and family dynamics.

Depending on the result of the game, that car ride can offer a safe haven of comfort and support or a catalyst for emotional turmoil. Parents play a significant role in determining which direction the ride takes.

“Just look at the physical dimensions of a car — close quarters, often with the parent having his or her back to the athlete,” said Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a longstanding partner of US Lacrosse that provides educational resources to support a positive, character-building sports experience for youth and high school athletes. “If it’s five minutes after the older kid’s game ended and you’ve got to get the younger kid to a game, it could make for a cauldron of problems.”

Especially after a tough game. The age at which an athlete may takes losing or underperforming to heart varies. What can’t vary, according to Thompson and other resources from PCA, is the parent’s unconditional love and support.

“You have to avoid the aspects of the game until your kid brings it up, or say ‘I’ve got some thoughts, are you ready to hear them?’” Thompson said. “If the answer is no, respect that.”

Even better, Thompson said, become a “Second-Goal Parent” and focus on the life lessons sports can teach athletes, rather than offering game-specific advice. Partially excerpted from Thompson’s book, “The High School Sports Parent,” and from, here are five postgame-friendly questions and comments that can support an athlete’s healthy transition following a game:

  • “What did you learn from the game?”
  • “What was your favorite play or the most fun part of the game?”
  • Avoid a generic “good game.” Be truthful and specific with praise. “I saw how well you moved your feet on defense.”
  • Tread lightly on assertions, and offer support when doing so: “I’m proud of the way you dealt with the pressure at the end of the game. Many people get so afraid under pressure that they don’t give their best effort. You did.”
  • “I know in my life that I learn more from my failures than from my successes. In fact, times I’ve been successful have usually come from learning from my mistakes.”
March 2014 Lacrosse Magazine

US Lacrosse believes it’s imperative that parents stay educated on the issues trending in our sport. Read the full seven-point check for parents in Lacrosse Magazine’s March issue, and visit the Parents section for more resources.

Parents Home

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