What To Say in The Car Journey Before A Match: A Guide For Football Parents!

by Admin

The car journey before a youth football match is normally treated as a ‘pre-match team talk’ for football parents to have with their child.

Do you believe this will improve your child’s performance?

If not what other methods could be more effective during this time with your child?

Let’s take a look at what a typical car journey tends to look like before a youth football match!

The Car Journey Part1!

It was 7.30 am on a Sunday morning and Zion’s alarm was ringing constantly.

It was time to get ready for his Sunday league football match against their closest rivals. Zion had been looking forward to this match all week and was keen to be ready on time to hopefully have a pre-match warm-up with his dad.

Zion quickly had a shower, brushed his teeth, and threw on his football kit ready for the game. “Are you ready son?” said his dad from downstairs, “yes dad I am coming” said Zion.

Zion was downstairs in a flash to grab his toast and football boots on his way out to the car.

“Big game today,” his dad said, while Zion was putting his seatbelt on. Zion looked deep in thought, it was as if someone had flipped the switch and he went from an excitable child to a concerned and slightly nervous one.

“Today I want to see a big performance from you at the back, none of that messing around on the ball,” he said as Zion looked nervously to the floor.

“As soon as you get that ball just get rid of it!” he continued to say as Zion sat quietly and listened to everything his dad had to say.

“Young players need freedom of expression to develop as creative players. They should be encouraged to try skills without fear of failing.”

Arsene Wenger

The car journey was almost over and Zion could see the playing field that they were going to play on, but instead of being excited and looking forward to playing, Zion was more concerned about letting his dad down.

Have you had similar pre-match talks with your child?

How did your child respond to it? Were they more excited about the game or did they look more anxious?

Let’s look at the same story again but this time, Zion’s dad decides to take a different approach.

The Car Journey Part 2!

“Are you ready son?” Zion’s dad said from downstairs, “yes I am coming” said Zion.

Zion was downstairs in a flash to grab his toast and football boots on his way out to the car.

“Looking forward to the game son?” Zion’s dad said with a big smile on his face, “yes dad, I have a good feeling about today’s game” said Zion as he put his seat belt on anticipating the game head.

“Tell me two thing’s you want to improve on in today’s game Zion,” said his dad calmly.

Focus on development!
Place the emphasis on their development, not the result!

Zion looked up with thought and then replied “erm, I want to keep my eyes up more and check my shoulder before I receive the ball!” he said.

“Great,” his dad said, and just remember what is the most important thing that you should always try and do?”

Zion quickly responded with glee “enjoy the game!” he replied.

As they arrived at the playing field Zion looked through the window with excitement and couldn’t wait to leave the car and begin the pre-match warm-up.

Thoughts?

As you can see each approach received a different response, one made Zion more anxious and nervous while the other helped him reflect on his personal development whilst still looking forward to the game.

It is very easy for most football parents to be the first example, where the focus is heavily on the result and not about the needs of the player, as this allows the football parents to control the situation.

Do you see how this can be to the detriment of the child?

The child is likely to be nervous already and having their football parent heavily focus on the importance of the result will only add to their anxieties.

The second example gives ownership back to the child with the football parents setting up the environment in a way that encourages the child to A) think about their own development & set themselves goals, & B) takes the focus away from the result.

Which approach do you believe will be the most effective long term?

Leave your comments below and let’s discuss.

Kurtis is the Head coach at ‘Let’s Play The Game ’ and has over 15 years of coaching experience. He is also a head coach at a junior school and club level. Kurtis has experience in training and mentoring grassroots coaches & parents in the West Midlands area. He holds a Diploma of Higher Education in Sports Coaching, FA Level 2 Badge Holder, and is currently doing the FA youth module level 3. He has the Premier Skills Coach Education Award

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