Have you heard of station wagon syndrome? If you have children who play sports, this concept could be very important to their enjoyment of the game and their ultimate success.
Station wagon syndrome refers to parents who criticize every aspect of the game on the drive home. They criticize the coach’s decisions during the game. They comment on which kids played poorly. They badmouth the referee. And worst of all, they focus on the outcome of the game and the performance of their child.
Warnings signs for youth sports burnout
Focus on fun, not winning, in youth sports
A sign appropriate for all youth sports
As I have discussed many times, we must avoid putting too much pressure on our kids when it comes to sports. Burnout is a huge problem in youth sports, and pressure from parents has been shown to be one of the main reasons kids quit playing.
These kinds of discussions make kids think that all we care about is winning. It sends the message that performance and impressing scouts are more important than having fun. It also promotes poor sportsmanship.
Give kids two or three days a week to rest
Don’t push kids to compete in “showcase” events
Sports medicine stats: Youth sports and quitting
Instead, spend the time in the car talking about the positive aspects of the game. Ask your children if they had fun. Talk about what they enjoyed the most.
Sports should be fun for children. Parents that are overly critical make it much harder for their kids to enjoy playing.