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Raising a good sport

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The Athlete-Parent-Coach triad seems to get nothing but bad press these days. It is common to read stories about parents getting kicked off of sidelines, coaches throwing fits, and student athletes doing everything they can to get ahead. It doesn’t have to be that way! Sports can be a life-changing experience for our kids; a way for families to build friendships in the community; and a good coach has the opportunity to mold our young people. Raising a good sport starts long before the kids ever take their first step onto the field, court, or arena. Here are some tips for getting started:

Talk about sportsmanship. What it is, why it’s important, and how to recognize it. Use age-appropriate terms. Sportsmanship is another way to practice the golden rule: treat your team, coach, and opponents the way you would want to be treated.Model, model, model. Our kids watch us all the time. Don’t miss the opportunity to show them how to win and lose graciously. Of course we’ll have emotions about the outcome of the game. It’s good to be happy when we win and sad when we lose, and as parents we can model the appropriate way to deal with those feelings.

Respect the coach. Parents often watch their own kid on the field, but the coach has an eye on the whole team. If you don’t understand a coaching decision, ask later. It can be helpful to know the coach’s perspective on the game and practice. However, in front of kids, always use respectful language when talking about their coaches, just as you would with their teachers.Consequences for bad sportsmanship. Coaches often have consequences for bad sportsmanship. Respect those, and talk about them afterwards with your child. “Why do you think you were pulled out of the game? What can you do differently next time?”Celebrate as a group. Acknowledge the team effort that went into the goal or winning basket. Give high-fives to those on the bench.

Enjoy being part of a team!

January 9, 2015

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