Sport is important for keeping fit, team building and having fun. Whether it be playing soccer in the park with friends on the weekend or a rugby grand final against a rival school, demonstrating good sportsmanship and respect should be part of the game. If boys learn from a young age that good sportsmanship is a normal part of any sporting game, they will carry it with them throughout their adult lives. Whether facing defeat, or celebrating a win, the greatest sportsmen will show respect and humility in all sporting situations.
Here are seven ways of encouraging your son to show good sportsmanship.
1. Model good behaviour
It is known that children learn from watching their parents. This is no different when it comes to respecting others on and off the sports field. If you want your son to be a good sport and treat his opponents, coaches and officials with respect, it is imperative that you model this behaviour.
The parent who stands on the sidelines yelling negative or derogatory comments at their son, the coach, officials or other parents is showing their son that this behaviour is normal and okay, which obviously it is not! Being encouraging and cheering on your son and his team is a positive and important aspect of the game.
2. Remind your son that his effort is the only thing he can control
Losing can be disappointing, but it is worth reminding your son that he can’t control the ability of the other team, the decisions of the officials or the ability of his team mates. If the weather isn’t favourable, if the pitch is more sand than grass or the court is dusty and slippery, it is out of your son’s control. All of these factors can affect the outcomes of a sport even though your son may have done his best in every situation. Your son should understand that while he can encourage and support his teammates in being part of the team, he has control only of his own efforts – being aware of this will better equip him to handle disappointing situations and defeats.
3. Ensure that he always respects the ruling of sporting officials
This is a simple but important thing to remind your son. Officials won’t accept backchat or rude behaviour, and won’t change their ruling simply because a player is angry. This is also the easiest way to help the other team as disrespectful players can give away penalties or be sent off the field. While officials are only human and can sometimes make mistakes, their decisions should be accepted. Disrespecting official rulings demonstrates bad sportsmanship and is likely to negatively impact your son and his team.
4. Ensure he supports and cheers on the team
Being a good sport is about more than just accepting defeat well. Being an active member of the team and encouraging your teammates is also an important part of showing respect and good sportsmanship. Most teams will have a few key players that are positive through everything and can always encourage the team to find and lift motivation levels. These players unite teams, inspire comebacks and never belittle other players.
5. Encourage him to congratulate the winners
Losing well is an integral part of being a good sportsman. Firstly, if your son can’t accept that sometimes his team will lose, he is going to struggle in coping with defeat. Congratulating the winning team in a genuine nature is one of the best ways to show respect and good sportsmanship, and is also a great way for your son to gain respect from others.
6. Don’t live out your sporting dreams through your son
Many sons will love the same sports as their parents, but when this isn’t the case, it is important that you don’t push him to play a sport he doesn’t have a passion for, as he may become resentful, and your relationship may suffer. He will struggle to find the intrinsic motivation to apply himself to improving his skills and sportsmanship if he feels he must play it to win your approval.
7. Encourage persistence
According to theory, it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. It is important to encourage your son not to give up on a sport that he loves, particularly when facing disappointments such as being benched, losing, missing shots, or suffering an injury – working through these things builds resilience and determination. These setbacks provide opportunities for learning and improvement, and give your son the chance to show true humility, respect and good sportsmanship.
For over a hundred years Trinity Grammar School has been guiding boys to grow in mind, body and spirit. With a proud history of sport we encourage teamwork and humility reflecting bible teachings, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3. Our focus is on teaching boys the Christian values of coping with adversity, losing with dignity, and winning with grace.
In 2015, Trinity became the first school in Australasia to be accredited as a World Academy of Sport Athlete Friendly Education Centre (AFEC). It is one of only nine schools in the world to receive this accreditation.
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