Parents- You’re Ruining the Car Ride Home


Parents- You’re ruining the car ride home (sorry)

There are good times to talk with your son or daughter about the game, and then there are bad times.

On the ride home from the game and practice is a bad time.

Worth repeating: The worst time to “discuss” performance is on the ride home.

We may want to talk so bad that it is like acid in our mouth; they need to know what we think. We have great points, and they need to know how they can improve.

All true, but we just cannot share them on the ride home.

Even if we commend and not criticize, we may get in the habit of making the car ride home the time and place to discuss.

They are trapped in the confines and have to listen. When athletes do play poorly, the last thing they want to hear is someone trying to make them feel better. In fact, it doesn’t help build their mental toughness because they need to feel
the pain of not getting what they want.


Here’s A Parent Strategy: The Talk

The best time to discuss the game or practice is at an agreed-upon time. This might be after dinner or after cleaning up—whatever you agree upon as a family.

Your son or daughter will appreciate the time to decompress and not dread the car ride home like their friends who get grilled every time.

So much can be accomplished after we are cool, calm, and collected. And especially after your child is calm and keyed down, and has had time to process.

Resist the urge to talk more than listen.

Allow them to provide the feedback about what they did well and what they learned from their play. They take much more ownership when they are doing the talking.

It doesn’t build Mental Toughness to pile on kids after they’ve messed up. As Head Coach of Auburn Swimming, Brett Hawke states, “catch them doing it right”! Be sure to let them know they did it right NOT on the car ride home either. 


Dr. Rob Bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out our most recent books on Mental Toughness-

you're ruining the car ride home

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Dr. Rob Bell

Ahoy! I'm Dr. Rob Bell. Your Mental Toughness coach. Be The BEST at Getting BETTER. Will your Hinge connect?
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