Encouraging your child to play sports, especially team sports, is a great way to teach them many important values that will help them in all areas of life and allow them to grow into well balanced, respectful and productive adults. Some of these values include:
In addition to these values and the many more benefits of playing sports for your child’s development, good sportsmanship is one value that is unique to playing a competitive sport. Yes, I understand that everybody likes to win and being competitive is a key value developed through sport. But it’s important that both children and parents remember that junior sports is not ALL about winning. Most importantly we want our kids to have fun, make friends and stay fit and healthy. We also want to use sport to teach valuable life values such as good sportsmanship. So, what can you do to help teach your kids good sportsmanship? The answer is a lot… Whether you play competitive sports yourself or not, you are a key role model for your child and how they approach sports. So, it’s important that you are constantly reinforcing good values and ethics regarding your child’s performance and behaviour out on the sporting field. Here are some key tips to help teach your kids good sportsmanship.
It’s important to try your hardest and we always want to strive to be the best we can be. However it is inevitable that sometime we will lose. When this happens don’t get angry or look to blame teammates, the referee or coaches. Accept it with pride, congratulate the winning team and look at areas that you can improve upon next time.
No one likes a gloater. When you win it’s fine to celebrate with your teammates and family, but don’t rub the other teams nose in their defeat. Be respectful, shake hands and congratulate them on a good game.
From time to time everyone makes mistakes. Especially in junior sports. When a teammate makes a mistake, they will be feeling embarrassed enough already and they don’t need to be berated or made fun of. This type of behaviour won’t help anyone. It fact when someone makes a mistake it’s important to go over and encourage them with a friendly pat on the back. This will help to put that error behind them so they can focus on the next play and regain their confidence.
No matter what the referee says you must follow their decisions. Arguing or abusing the umpire will not get you anywhere and is very disrespectful. Even if they have made a bad call we must remember that everyone makes mistakes. And in the big picture we are all there to have fun. So, get on with the game and focus on what you can do to help your team win.
In junior sports, there will always be players of different abilities and size playing in the same teams. It’s important that every child gets a fair go of getting involved, having fun and developing their skills. Coaches, parents and teammates all have a role to ensure that everybody gets to join in and feel like they are contributing to the team.
Winning isn’t everything. If you must cheat to win then it will be a shallow win. Always follow the rules of the game and do everything you can to be the best player within the rules of the game. This can also apply to grey areas of the game where there may not be a specific rule but it comes back to being fair and honest. Cheating or bending the rules in anyway should never be encouraged in kids’ sports.
Sometime a child will be asked to play a role that is in the best interest of the team. This may mean they will not be the star of the show. But they will play an important assistance role in the team game plan. So, while it is important that everyone gets a fair go, kids also need to understand that sometimes they need to make sacrifices when called upon to play defensive or background roles.
Sports can get emotional and in the heat of competition (especially in contact sports) we can sometimes do or say things to try to hurt the other team or even our own teammates. Whatever happens out on the field must stay on the field. Furthermore, at the end of the game it’s important to shake hands and have a laugh together. Some of the best friends your child will make may be players on other teams, especially if they start to play representative competitions. By consistently teaching and practicing this behaviour to your child they will learn the value of good sportsmanship and be respected by coaches, teammates, opponents and referees. So always be careful of the passing comments and instructions you give to your child to ensure that you are being the best role model you can be. To help develop good sportsmanship in your child it’s important to find good coaches and organisations that make sportsmanship a core part of their training program. At Australian Sports Camps we have a very clear focus on developing not only good sportsmen and women, but also good people, and the coaching and support staff are specially selected on their ability to instil these values at all of our Australian camps.