3 ways to handle your youth football player’s bad performance
It’s inevitable that at some point during your child’s football playing days, they are going to have a bad game. It might be the individual performance, the team’s, or both.
You’re going to want to talk about it. They probably won’t. At least not right away.
Here are three suggestions on how you can handle it.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes. After a bad day at work, you probably wouldn’t want to discuss it on the car ride home with anyone. After a bad game, your child probably feels the same.
I suggest avoiding the discussion completely until after the car ride is over. I’d avoid talking about it at dinner or any other time when there are more people present than just you and your child.
Instead, maybe wait and talk about it while having a catch with the football, or the next day while driving to school (as long as a sibling isn’t in the car). If there’s never an opportunity to discuss it, so be it. Remember, it’s us parents who usually want to discuss it more than our children. Even when we do, it can’t change what’s already happened.
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2. Keep it positive
As tempting as it is to point out all the things your children could have done better, I always try to point out all the things they did well. It’s not easy, believe me, especially in my case because of my coaching background. But I find that if I can point out two things my child did well and then “something to work on,” it comes across much better than going through a list of things the child could have done better.
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3. Focus on the mental mistakes
I make it a point to never emphasize general physical mistakes. After all, no child drops a pass on purpose or misses a tackle intentionally. Instead, I focus on the mental part, and how correcting technique can turn into successful physical execution.
“I think on one of your missed tackles you tried to use your shoulder instead of wrapping the ball carrier up.” Rather than: “You just missed too many tackles.”
“You might want to make sure to check down on your second and third options before making a pass.” Instead of: “You missed a wide-open receiver on that third-down play.”
“Next time, instead of spinning out of the attempted flag pull, see if you can side-step the would-be puller and then move forward.” Instead of, “You aren’t allowed to spin in this league.”