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The Car Ride Home

29 June 2021

“What were you doing?”  “Why didn’t you pass the ball to the WA?”  “You know I told you to practise shooting over the weekend ….”  Suncorp Team Girls ambassador and author Rebecca Sparrow reflects on the importance of the car ride home from netball.

Ahhh, the car trip home after a disastrous game of netball. Maybe your daughter’s team played badly or maybe your daughter had a bad day on the court. Either way, it can be hard as a *cough* enthusiastic, invested parent to let it go.

Our natural instinct at times is to bombard our kids with questions the moment they get in the car. And that makes for a pretty awkward and tense car trip home.

When our kids have a bad game – and when it comes to playing sport that’s inevitable – it’s actually a unique opportunity for us as parents to lean in with comfort (not judgement!) and be their soft place to fall

Keep these tips in mind next time your daughter has a disastrous game …

  • Don’t ask WHY questions:  Why did you make that pass? Why did you shoot from there? Why did you let that girl get in front of you?  Why are you angry? The problem with asking kids ‘Why?’ is that so often tweens and teens have no idea how they’re feeling or why they made the choice they did. This is why the answer is usually ‘I don’t know!’ … because they don’t! It’s incredibly hard for kids to analyse their motivations or thought processes. So be less Judge Judy in the car and give your daughter time to process how she feels.  
  • You set the tone: Your attitude in the car can play a critical part in how your daughter processes her performance. If you seem angry, she may feel ashamed and angry at herself. On the other hand, if you bombard her with false positives like “I think you played great!” when it’s clear that she really didn’t – that doesn’t help either. Instead, try something like, “That was a tough game today – I think we deserve a milkshake” or play some of her favourite music. Keep the tone upbeat rather than doom and gloom.
  • Don’t start pointing fingers: The car ride home is not the time to start sledging teammates and coaches.
  • Do focus on positives when your daughter is ready to talk - point out the things she did well! Look at the big picture of how she’s improved and gently prompt her to come up with ideas of what she could perhaps do differently next time.
  • Do Google videos of Australian Diamonds players talking about their worst days on court. It can help your daughter see that having a bad day happens to even the strongest players! Check out netball legend and Suncorp Team Girls ambassador Laura Geitz below talking about some of disappointments along her netball journey.
  • Do talk to your daughter about self-care..when you’re feeling low because of a bad day on court or a bad day at school, it’s a good time to reach into your self-care toolbox. A warm bath, listening to music, playing with a pet, baking, colouring-in, playing a musical instrument, watching your favourite tv show, catching up with a trusted friend…these can all lift our spirits and help us to see our ‘failure’ in a more realistic light.

Suncorp Team Girls ambassador and netball legend Laura Geitz reflects on how she dealt with disappointment in her career

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