Teaching Children the Importance of Good Sportsmanship

How do you bring up your child to believe in good sportsmanship when so often it seems like ‘win at all costs’ is the only mentality that matters? There are several issues that you can focus on, starting with being a good role model yourself and showing good sportsmanship when your child’s team are playing.

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Decide on Your Values

However, being able to demonstrate good sportsmanship for your child depends on being clear on your own values. Think about what good sportsmanship means to you. Is it applauding the opposing team when they score a great goal? When you’re watching sport on TV, do you criticise decisions you think are made against your team? You need to be clear on what values you want to pass on to your child.

Take Time to Listen

Now talk to your child about how they feel about their involvement in sports. Listen actively and encourage them to explore their feelings about what is fair and right. And give your child reassurance that what they’re feeling is valid.

A Code of Conduct

Deciding on a code of conduct can be very valuable for instilling values of good sportsmanship. There are model codes available. You could encourage parents and coaches to come together and develop a code that is relevant to your kids.

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Walk the Walk

The worst thing you can do is pay lip service to good sportsmanship. For example, if you’re watching a coaching session and the coach is using a rugby drill video from a supplier like https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/, you need to be aware of your reactions to what’s happening on the pitch. Don’t denigrate the coach if you think he’s using the video in the wrong way or mock your child for not tackling the drill correctly.

You Set the Rules

Ultimately, if you see your child engaged in poor sportsmanship, it’s up to you to deal with the situation and to make it clear that their behaviour is unacceptable. Likewise, if the coach is letting poor sportsmanship slide or even encouraging it, you need to have the courage to confront them. But have a quiet word in private rather than reinforcing bad sportsmanship. Set a good example and your kids will follow.