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How To Teach Your Child Good Sportsmanship

You want your child to be a great athlete. But what are the qualities of a great athlete? Your son’s favorite player or your daughter’s favorite competitor – do they love the skills alone, or is there something else that makes that athlete a pro?

Here at Baxter Sports, we think the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete is Sportsmanship! Good sportsmanship makes a player a great teammate and a great friend. Good sportsmanship for kids starts early and is learned best when young kids are learning sports fundamentals.

What is sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is Attitude!

Future Hall-of-Fame basketball coach, Jay Wright, gives his Villanova players Attitude points after every practice and every game. For his players, success is not only about baskets scored or rebounds made, but also hustle, teamwork, and positive play. He awards Attitude Points for assists – the ultimate show of teamwork – and for acts of respect, like helping a player up after a tough play. These are the characteristics that make a great athlete.

Why is sportsmanship so important?

You want your child to be a well-rounded athlete. You have helped them practice their foul shot and their corner kicks; you have gone to every tee-ball game and hockey practice. Now it is time to teach them how to be a team player and to support their teammates.

Sportsmanship is a reflection of the temperament of your son and daughter. Are they calm under pressure? Can they leave the game on the field? Do they know how to win with grace and lose with dignity? These skills are hard to teach, but essential to master.

And you can help.

How to foster good sportsmanship in your kids

You are your child’s ultimate role model. In their eyes, you are bigger than Jordan, more amazing than Ronaldo, and stronger than Serena! Good sportsmanship starts with great sports parenting. If you show your child your calm under pressure, your respect for other players’ skills, and your sincere love of the game, they, too, will become holistic athletes who value opponents as well as teammates. You set your child up for sportsmanship success.

If you don’t believe us, here at Baxter Sports, we believe that Youth Sports Psychology can help. Approaching the game from a healthy, grounded point of view is key to success. We offer programs for players, coaches, and parents that teach Attitude and a positive mindset. Never doubt your ability to be an excellent sports role model to your child!

Never lose your Temper

A key part of being a role model is always keeping your cool. Your son or daughter looks to you to learn how to react in any situation, from school to family to the field. If you are supportive and optimistic, they will learn to let go of anxieties, to learn from their failures, and to persevere. Resist the urge to be the parent shouting from the stands at the ref or the coach. Instead, model enthusiasm and positivity.

If you are at a game or even a practice, be the parent cheering on every player. Thank the ref after the game. Compliment the coach on rotating through so many players to support the whole team. Applaud your son or daughter for their amazing effort. And if they sit on the bench, cheer on their key role on the team. Share a few “bench mob” videos. Your positive attitude will rub off on your young athlete and the whole team.

Your child is working HARD

You watch your daughter practicing those pitches every day in the Summer. You have spent years watching your son work on his 3-point shot. You know more than anyone how hard they work. You can help them develop key sportsmanship skills by supporting them in the driveway and on the bench. Whether your son is the starter for Varsity or your daughter is the JV benchwarmer, both deserve your enthusiasm and support. And if they feel supported, they will stay motivated and be an integral part of the team and contribute to the team attitude no matter what.

Don’t belittle your opponents

Teach your children to be respectful winners and dignified losers. No matter how hard we play and how experienced we are, we all have bad days. We also all have huge victories. A great athlete is shows great sportsmanship in both situations.

Be kind to others. If your daughter is on the winning team, encourage her to compliment her opponents, to shake their hands, and to say kind words to her fellow players. If your son’s team is defeated, let him lead by example and applaud the opposing team for their good plays.

You can help this attitude by keeping your comments positive throughout the game. Cheer on all the players on your child’s team and compliment parents and coaches from the opposing squad. Highlight an opponent’s great play as well as your own team’s excellent execution and your child will learn that the joy of playing is the camaraderie as much, if not more, than the victory that day.

Encourage kids to listen to coaches and officials

As your child’s role model, you need to show them the best way to talk to coaches and referees. If you blame the ref for a team’s loss instead of talking about how the team played, you are teaching your child to question the ref’s skills and authority. If you harass the coach for not running a play you recommended instead of thanking the coach for managing a tough game, you are showing your young athlete that they should questions their coaches’ decisions.

A great athlete respects the refs and listens to the wisdom of her coaches. She can learn that the coach sees the whole game, not just the individual player. Your young soccer star can discover that he is part of the play, not the whole show.

By encouraging your child to listen to coaches and officials, you are teaching them the right attitude to have as members of a team.

A Little About Us

Baxter Sports Camps has offered the premiere Youth Sports Camps in the Portland area for over a decade. We support the whole athlete on the field and off and encourage teammwork and sportsmanship at every level.

Whether you are looking to support your child as they build an overall love of sports, or hone skills in just one, we offer a range of opportunities for your family. Register now for one of our Sports Camps for all kids who love to play and are looking for a safe, supportive, sportsmanlike environment. And if your son or daughter loves soccer, check out our specialized Summer soccer camp for the best coaches, skill sessions, and scrimmages in Portland.

Our coaches lead by example and teach your child the kind of Attitude that is the hallmark of every great player!

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