By Mike Woitalla
"What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?"
That was the question posed to college athletes in a survey by Proactive Coaching. The overwhelming response was: "The ride home from games with my parents."
Children, not surprisingly, don’t enjoy a critique of their performance when they settle into the backseat. Who, no matter what age, would?
Imagine a rough day at the office -- an office that resembles a typical youth soccer game. Your boss screams instructions while you work and lectures you before and after. Then you ride home with your parents. They’ve witnessed your mistakes. So they offer you advice.
No matter how well-intentioned, their advice will likely register as admonishment. And they’re denying your desire – your right -- to wind down and contemplate your feelings on your own terms.
If a parent actually did have some advice for a young player that might help the child, after the game -- when the kids are physically and emotionally spent – is certainly not the time.
In that same survey, the athletes were asked what words from their parents they remembered most fondly. The by far most common response was, "I love to watch you play."
(Steve Henson wrote about the Proactive Coaching survey in his Yahoo!Sports ThePostGame column: “What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent -- And What Makes A Great One.”)
(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for Bay Oaks/East Bay United SC in Oakland, Calif. He is the co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper, and More Than Goals with Claudio Reyna. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)