4 Methods for Establishing Good Sportsmanship in Youth Competitors

It is crucial that youth competitors establish proper sportsmanship. Here are four tips that will help a child become a good sport when participating in sport activities.

✓     Locate a reliable mentor. Children look to adults for inspiration, instruction, and ways to better themselves. During competition, kids thrive when they have adult figures to assist and encourage them. It can be a parent, adult, or coach in a league, a peer, or even a professional athlete that can serve as a model for a child. The important thing is that youths have a role model to imitate, facilitate positive growth, and aid in building strong character.

✓     Win or lose. No athlete has even been a winner 100% of the time. The need to compete and win is part of the institution of sport; however, learning to lose gracefully is something that must be practiced and taught. Children must develop a sense of accomplishment in knowing that they did their best, and learn to grow from their mistakes before the next contest. If we strive to make losing as natural as winning, then in essence, we have all become winners.

✓     When things don’t go right. Referees and game officials make mistakes, coaches and managers make poor decisions, and players do not always perform their best. All of these things can cost a team a victory. At the same time, all of these things are critical to sports. Children should be introduced and instructed on the imperfections that are evident in sports, and learn how to properly respond to adverse situations in a responsible manner. In doing so, an environment perfect for character building and the development of proper sportsmanship will be created.

✓     Fun versus duty. While achievement and success should be stressed, we cannot become hyper focused on either these things. We must remember that there are other things that are equally or more important that how a child performs in a sport. Kids should concentrate on having fun above all else or they may lose interest and turn away from sport activities altogether. There is a huge difference between duty and fun. Duty consists of something that must be accomplished. On the other hand, fun consists of pursuing what is pleasurable. While youths should be encouraged to perform their best, they should be focused on having fun above all else in order to maximize the amount of pleasure gained from an activity.

There are plenty of bad examples on television that concern sportsmanship–temper tantrums, cursing, and tossing equipment are just a few. These behaviors should be avoided at all costs. Conversely, a spirit of fair play, reverence for one’s opponents, and well-mannered behavior are the foundation of a true sportsman. Find youths a mentor, teach them how to win and lose gracefully, instruct them on proper behavior when things do not go the way they like, and teach them the difference between duty and enjoyment. They will become better people and athletes because of it!

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