Sportsmanship

You have certainly heard numerous stories of poor sportsmanship at sporting events across the country. With the increased display in poor behavior, many times done by adults, and kids’ natural inclination to want to win, it can be difficult to teach good sportsmanship. While the increased violence at games may make things more difficult, it is not impossible to instill in your children the skills they need to be a good team player. Here are some tips for teaching your child good sportsmanship. 

Be an Example of Sportsmanship

The most powerful tool you have to teach your kids what good sportsmanship is your own personal behavior. You must be a good role model of appropriate behavior if you want your kids to learn how to act accordingly. Words are just not enough, you must be an example of good sportsmanship. Do not sit on the stands and yell at the coach or referee. If you have a problem that needs to be address talk the coach or the head of the league privately after the game is over. If your child sees you yelling at the coach or referee, they will think that it is ok for them to act like that.

Being a fan on the sideline can be very difficult when your child is on the field playing. You may be tempting to yell direction to them on the field in an effort to help. Keep in mind, that this does not help your child, it only confuses and discourages them. Keep your shout outs positive and general. If you have some pointers for you child wait until later in the week and take them out and practice with them. During and right after the game is not the time to be negative or offer advice.

Rules to Teach Your Kids

  • Be a Good Loser.Your child must learn how to be a good loser and that winning is not everything. Too often kids equate winning to being good, which is certainly not the case. Encourage them to always shake hands with the winners and say “good game.” You want to start this practice at home even when playing a simple board game. This will carry over onto the field. 
  • Be a Good Winner.Even when they win, kids must learn how to control their emotions and not gloat. Certainly, they can be excited that they won and show that excitement, but they should never taunt or ridicule the loser or go overboard. 
  • Respect Coach and Referee.Whether your child likes or agrees with the coach or referee, they must show them respect. This is just part of the game. Bad calls and decisions are going to be made, but your child must learn how to deal with this appropriately. Try to help them put the game into perspective, after all, there will be many other games. 
  • Play Fair. Fair play is a must. Children cannot think that cheating is a solution to winning. This may help them win some games, but it will not help them the rest of their life. Point out any inappropriate behavior to your child and let them know the consequences of such behavior. If the coach is encouraging this behavior, you may need to go to his supervisor or the coordinator of the league. 
  • Focus on Performance.Whether your child wins or loses the game, encourage them to focus on their performance through the game. Encourage them to talk about good plays he/she or other team members made during the game. This will help to take the actual focus off of winning or losing the game. 

Many kids’ sporting leagues across the country have decided to hand out medals to all children who participate in the sport as a way of displaying good sportsmanship. This can show kids that participation, hard work, and dedication to the sport is equally important to winning. Oftentimes, the winning team will receive special custom medals, and other teams receive participation medals. This is the perfect solution to allow the winning team to be honored for their success and all the kids to be honored for their participation in the sport.