Think about any particularly rough day you’ve had in the office—maybe your computer crashed, your 4 PM meeting got pushed up to 1 PM (which meant you skipped lunch to get your presentation done on time) or your boss blamed you for something that was your coworker’s mistake. You can’t very well lose your cool at work and storm out of the office, so you probably need a little time and space to vent when you get home, right? Well after a particularly rough game sometimes youth athletes need a safe place to vent their own frustrations. The car ride home is a great place and time for that. The Trophy Mom calls it “the car cone of silence.”
Let’s say your son plays football and he’s frustrated because his teammates kept dropping passes they should have caught (and probably have a dozen times before). Or maybe your softball playing daughter got called out sliding into second when she was clearly safe (even officials make mistakes). Either way you have an upset, frustrated and annoyed youth athlete on your hands. It’s good they didn’t take their anger our on their teammates or the officials, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t upset. The car ride home is the perfect time to let them vent and get it all out of their system knowing they can’t hurt anyone’s feelings and they won’t be judged or penalized for being angry.
Everyone needs to blow off steam every once in a while, and we all know how riled up athletes, parents and coaches can get after a game. But talking about why they are frustrated and getting it out of their system means your athlete won’t be holding any grudges the next time they step onto the field. It’s hard to play your best when you’re mad at your team or coach. But as The Trophy Mom says, “What is said in the car stays in the car. That’s why it’s the Car Cone of Silence. You don’t repeat it. They don’t repeat it. It’s been expressed, it’s over, and it’s done.” You don’t want to keep rehashing old frustrations time and time again because it makes it that much harder to move forward.
The car cone of silence is also a good time for your youth athlete to deal with any frustration they have about their own game time. Maybe they were the ones that dropped the pass or struck out on a bad pitch—chances are they are beating themselves up a bit and just need a sympathetic ear to listen. But once they get out of the car than that game is done and behind them and it’s time to look forward to the next one. You don’t want your youth athlete worrying out past mistakes days later as this can eat away at their confidence.
Give your players a safe space to vent and beat themselves up on the way home, but once you pull into the driveway there’s no sense is worrying about it anymore. Start focusing on how next time is going to better and what they can do to improve!