How to Encourage Good Sports Conduct
What is Good Sport Conduct? Good sport conduct or sportsmanship are the behaviors appropriate of a sport participant. Sportsmanship occurs when athletes show respect and concern to opponents, teammates, coaches, and officials. In other words, coaches should teach their athletes to “treat others, as you would like to be treated.” Sportsmanship is an important issue facing all people involved in athletics.
Examples of good sport conduct include:
- Shaking hands with opponents after a game
- Helping an opponent up after a play
- Showing concern for injured opponents
- Accepting all decisions of the referees
- Encouraging less skilled teammates
- Congratulating an excellent effort by opponents
Examples of poor sport conduct include:
- Trash talking
- Causing injury to an opponent on purpose
- Making fun of teammates
- Blaming losses on others
- Running up the score against your opponents
How to Model Good Sport Conduct - There are many ways that you can teach sportsmanship to your players, but the most important way is for you to model good sport conduct. Knute Rockne, former football coach of Notre Dame, said “One man practicing good sportsmanship is far better than 50 others preaching it.”
Young players look to adults as role models and are likely to observe their behaviors. It is unlikely that athletes will be able to control their behaviors, if their parents or coaches are unable to control their own. Adults who show respect to officials and opponents before, during, and after games can truly expect their players to do the same.
Examples of showing respect to officials:
- Avoid calling the officials names
- Civilly question calls
- Be open to idea that the official is correct
- Put yourself in the official’s shoes
Examples of showing respect to opponents:
- Give your best effort
- Celebrate victory respectfully
- Engage in the pre- and post-game handshake
- Give credit to opponents
During practices and games, it is imperative that coaches remain under control when interacting with players, assistant coaches, officials, and opposing coaches. Parents observing the good sportsmanship attitude of their children’s coach will soon understand the responsibility they have to engage in good sport conduct as spectators.
Actively Teach Sportsmanship
- Set up rules of sportsmanship or a code of conduct at the beginning of the season. Make sure to include consequences for breaking the code. These rules and consequences must apply to all athletes in all situations.
- Expect sportsmanship during practice and competitions
- Bring examples of the good or poor behavior of professional or college athletes to practice. Discuss the behavior of these athletes with your team.
- Reward athletes on your team who behave as good sports. Discipline athletes who behave as poor sports. By allowing poor sport conduct to happen on your team, you are teaching athletes that poor sport conduct is acceptable.
- Teach athletes to be considerate of their teammates and their opponents when they win and lose.
- Emphasize respecting opponents and officials whether they win or lose.
- Stress the importance of sportsmanship at parent meetings.
- Make sure your athletes know and follow the rules of the sport.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Elevating Athletes for this article.
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