How Was Practice?

February 4, 2020 growingchamp 0 Comments

Is there any question you’ve asked more often than this one: “How was practice?” 

If there is one, it’s probably, “Did you do your homework?” 

Perhaps we should reflect on the reason for our constantly wanting to know how practice went. Are we anxious to judge, ready to critique, a bit nosy, or honestly engaged in our child’s experience?

Learning new skills is messy, slow, uncooperative, and almost always uneven. 

In youth sports, much like “real” life, there are above average days, below average days, and a ton of just average days as the process of improvement and growth moves along slowly. The patient and persistent athlete is rewarded for putting in a consistent effort, even on the days it feels like, “I’m not getting any better.”

It’s important for sports parents to be able to discuss what happened at sports practice with their children, but it’s even more crucial that those conversations don’t become an endless interrogation that their child begins to dread. 

In spite of a parent’s good intentions, it’s all too easy for a child to get the feeling that he or she is being measured by their sports performance at practices.

So, how can sports parents discuss the day’s practice with their young athlete without making the child feel like they’re being judged by the quality of the day’s performance?

In a nutshell, parents should first of all be “welcoming” to their child after practice—happy to see them.

Secondly, “patient”—wait for your child to share whatever he or she feels like sharing.  It might not be anything to do with the technical part of practice, but if it’s important to them, it should be important to us.

Lastly, “curious” to learn more about what’s on their mind.  “Tell me more” is a very valuable phrase to use.

That phrase, along with “What was your favorite part of practice?” is a much less intimidating statement than “How did you DO?” 

Sports parents don’t have to discuss everything that happens on the field or in the gym with their kids, but they should “touch base” occasionally about things like the overall learning environment: 

  • “How does your coach talk to the kids when he’s teaching?”  
  • “What kinds of things is the coach having you work on?” 


The goal of asking these questions is to learn, not to judge.

How can parents broach sensitive, sports-related topics with their kids? For example, does the coach yell at particular children or somehow single them out during practice? It’s important for parents to learn how coaches are treating athletes during practices and competitions; i.e. Is it respectful?  Is it safe physically and emotionally?

Staying in the know about the coach’s methods of coaching and the disciplinary environment at practice and events allows parents to better support their children throughout their athletic journey.

Here are some questions that can help sports parents have honest discussions with their young athletes:

  • “How does your coach act when he/she is upset with the kids?” 
  • “How does your coach react to trouble makers during practice?” 
  • “Is there anything that happens during practices that makes you feel uncomfortable?” 

Regardless of the day’s performance, there are several alternatives that work better than an inquisition. 

Remember, no one knows your child like you do. Say a quick “It’s good to see you!” when your child jumps in the car after practice or a game, and then turn on your internal radar to catch the mood of your child. 

He or she may wish to sit in silence in the safety of your presence for a while before discussing the day’s events.

Parents who are responsive to the emotional needs of their children will discover those children invest their own energy right back into the relationship, and they grow up to be sensitive to the needs of others. The time together after a frustrating practice session can be the platform for growing closer to your child.

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