There’s nothing quite like the high of winning, especially when you’ve trained to be your best at something. Sports give kids the opportunity to gain new skills, learn the art of teamwork, and experience the reward of success as a direct result of their effort and dedication. But what happens when your child works their hardest, gives their best effort, and loses? It’s natural to be sad and disappointed at a loss, but demonstrating good sportsmanship during the most difficult moments is what truly defines a star athlete.
What is Good Sportsmanship?
By definition, Sportsmanship refers to an athlete’s conduct before, during, and after engaging in a sport or competitive activity. Acting with fairness, courtesy, and respect are characteristics of good sportsmanship. It’s generally agreed that kids learn these characteristics from the influential adult figures in their lives including parents, mentors, teachers, and coaches, and that sportsmanship can be best taught through competitive activities.
Ensuring Good Sportsmanship
The best way to make sure your child becomes a good sport is to enroll them in an activity like RecTennis, where the coaches and teachers value sportsmanship. Pay attention to the following indicators when considering a coach or sports organization.
Playing for the Love of the Game
An instructor’s focus should be on teaching kids to play for the love of the game and the joy of connecting with other people— not the goal of winning. Whether your child plays baseball, basketball, or tennis—fun is the goal and a coach who thinks otherwise is likely to teach your child conduct unbecoming of a true athlete.
An organization that values sportsmanship offers classes and coaching at all levels. Trainers meet a child wherever they are and for however long it takes them to progress. There’s no pressure or put-downs when an athlete makes a mistake. Adults demonstrate this to teammates and discourage negativity.
Good Coaching & Better Attitude
A coach who knows the ins and outs of their sport is a good coach. A coach who stays positive during practices and games is an even better coach. Yelling at players who miss a goal or a basket, or who fail to return a ball, is a sign of a coach who doesn’t value sportsmanship. They should meet loss with encouragement and mistakes with support.
How to Encourage Good Sportsmanship
The following are ways parents and coaches can help young athletes become good sports.
- Teach the rules and then teach the importance of following the rules.
- Make sure young athletes understand the importance of respecting officials. Remember to mentor the behavior, even when you disagree with them.
- Have young athletes reassure and support each other after mistakes and losses.
- Insist on losing like winners. Teach kids to congratulate their opponents for the good game whether they win or lose.
- It’s ok to feel sad about a loss, but it’s not ok to cast blame or be mean. Parents and coaches alike need to tell and show young athletes that this is true.
- Let the coaches, coach. It’s neither a parent or players job.
RecTennis programs focus on the joy of the game. Coaches teach players young and old in a fun and approachable atmosphere. Tennis is a competitive sport, but young players get plenty of actual play time in all of the classes and camps, and good sportsmanship is taught and role modeled at every lesson, practice, and game. Find out more about upcoming RecTennis programs near you.