Top Tips for Nurturing Good Sportsmanship in Children

    “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” – John Wooden, UCLA and NAIA teacher and coach

    Soccer Tunnel Model good sportsmanship for your young athletes!

    When your child joins a sports team, it’s an opportunity to not only improve their physical skills, but also builds character that can spill over into other aspects of their lives, even as adults.  Sportsmanship is one of these aspects that is nurtured by great coaching and supportive parents.

    Sportsmanship involves being a good sport both on –and off - the field.  We want to nurture our kids being both good winners AND losers.

    How do you help kids learn about good sportsmanship?  Below are some tips.

    Tips at the Game:

    1. Set a Good Example. Children model adults, so if you are swearing, yelling at refs, making fun of the other team, you are setting a poor example.  You are a role model representing your child, their team, and your community – act like it.

    2. Stay Positive.  Shout words of encouragement from the sidelines, not criticism. Celebrate good plays, even when made by the other team.

    3. Remember you are the parent – not the coach. Don’t shout directions from the sidelines.

    4. Respect the officials and their decisions – especially when you don’t agree with it.

    5. Stay cool.  Don’t lose your temper, keep perspective that this is a game.

    football sign A good reminder for parents to be good sports.

    Tips outside the game:

    1. Remember this is your kids playing, not you.  Don’t push them into a sport just because you used to do it, let them decide what activities are right for them.

    2. Teach your child the rules of the game.  The more they know about the sport, the more they can follow directions given by the coach and play fair.

    3. For a sore loser:  Focus on accomplishments during the game, having fun, and working together. Help them swallow their pride and remind them there is always next time.

    4. For an overzealous winner: instead of asking about winning, focus on having fun and specific skills.  Teach your child to be humble instead of boasting about a win; because like it or not, eventually they will lose.

    5. Seek out good examples of sportsmanship in professional athletes and make it a teaching moment with your child.  Also point out example of bad sportsmanship and spark a conversation of why their behavior is wrong.

    For more resources about sportsmanship, visit US Youth Soccer and NAIA.

    Cheers! Jessica

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