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Published on 5 years ago by Maggie Addison

Is Your Child a Kind Athlete?

Teaching Sportsmanship On and Off the Court

Sports parents sometimes get a bad rep for their, let’s say, “commitment” to the game. But we know we’re not all like that! Getting your child into team sports can be a great way to teach valuable social lessons.nd we need to talk about one -- Sportsmanship.

Working with kids you develop a passion for seeing their little personalities develop. You learn there are no bad kids, just bad behaviours. But boy oh boy, sometimes the coach life can be hard. I have to admit I see more and more negative team attitudes. Too many times I hear “Oh don’t pass to him, he can’t catch”, “Oh man, these teams are so unfair” - not to mention the struggle of getting the boys to pass to the girls!

Don’t get me wrong, we WANT our kids to be as enthusiastic as possible when playing the game. Competition isn’t a bad thing. But Competition and Kindness do not have to be mutually exclusive. Ask yourself, is my child a “Kind Athlete”? Are they a team player? Do they encourage or discourage?

But how do we teach a thing like Sportsmanship?

Here are a few strategies we try to incorporate into our camps and programming.

Model the Behaviour!

Talk about the other team or teammates in a positive way. We incorporate congratulating an opponent and cheering on teammates into our curriculum. We want our players to feel like this attitude is commonplace, or the only attitude. When you say things like - “boy that player had a good shot” it shapes how your child sees the game and other players.

Encourage Empathy

Talk about other people’s feelings, and how other people’s sadness is the same as our own. Acknowledge how hard the other team or teammate worked. Did someone lose? Miss a shot? Point out how disappointing that is for all of us.

Reward good behaviour, but don’t ignore the bad!

This is probably one of the biggest struggles. Reward always trumps punishment in the long run - but avoiding punishing your child doesn’t have to mean you let the behaviour slide. Encourage them when they are kind, but explain to them that the alternate is not appropriate. Words and actions hurt! It’s OK to tell them that.

Coaches and parenting experts preach about the benefits of putting your kids in organized sports, and there are many! But sportsmanship is one of the most crucial attitudes to develop. Sportsmanship is just a context specific term for Kindness. Who doesn’t want to teach their kids to be kind?

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