There’s nothing like the elated feeling your children get after winning a game they’ve practiced for day and night. But that good feeling can quickly dissipate when faced with bad sportsmanship.
Youth sports are a great opportunity for kids to build self-esteem and learn the essentials of playing a game. But it’s also an opportunity for parents and coaches to teach the importance of good sportsmanship. While parents cheer for their kids on the sidelines, it’s also imperative for them to be positive role models and strong examples of what it means to be a good sport.
Our kids look to their role models, and when adults and athletes have a win-at-all-cost mentality, it can ruin the game and bring out the worst in everyone.
Play with integrity. One of the most essential lessons a child can learn from sports is to follow the rules. Make sure your team understands the rules and doesn’t break them, even if they have the opportunity to get away with it.
Respect the officials. It’s important to teach not only our young athletes but also our parents and coaches to respect the referees and officials. Our kids have a watchful eye and take notice when parents and coaches are disrespectful.
Be a good sport. This means doing what we can to lift our teammates up and help them reach their potential. Being a good teammate means also being a good person on and off the mat regardless of the outcome.
Maintain self-control. Keep your cool, have a positive attitude, and don’t overreact during practice or games. Be encouraging of other players.
Let the coaches’ coach. Avoid chiming in with your coaching advice for the team, or other parents. Let those in charge run the plays.
Following these tips, along with reminding your children you’re proud of them no matter what, will help instill the values of sportsmanship and collectively ensure that our kids have the best sports experience possible.