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“Be a Good Sport!”

What Makes a Good Sportsman

What Makes a Good Sportsman:

It is custom that after a youth sports game, both teams line up and shake each others hands.“Good Game!” We ask them to say, even if they are thinking the opposite!

Competiveness is a natural part of growing up.Especially at a young age, comparison and competition are healthy to have towards siblings and friends. At home and at school they are provided a safe environment where their attitudes can develop productively.

Young kids are in a stage of black and white thinking. Goal oriented, anything becomes a game that can be won or lost: Whose toy is bigger or smaller, faster or stronger.They associate winning with being good and losing with being bad. Naturally, children feel frustrated and disappointed when they lose, or feel they are not the best.

These concepts of winning and losing are harmful to kids. Their interactions with their peers are indicative of how they will respond to competition in the world. As they grow older, teens may find that poor sportsmanship is no longer a game amongst friends but actually pushes them away.

Our role as coaches and parents is to teach and build good sportsmanship, while managing competitiveness.

What is Sportsmanship?

As parents and coaches, we urge our young players to “Be a good Sport,” but what does that really mean?

Good sportsmanship goes beyond talent and the ability to win. It is an attitude and a style, worn before, during and after the game is done. Therefore, integrity is a key to good sportsmanship. An athlete who shows integrity is consistent in their actions, which are truthful and reflective of their inner values.Meaning, a good sport can’t just be on the field-they have to take their good sportsmanship off the field too!

So What Makes A Good Sport?

During the game, a good sportsman:

-Plays Fairly by the Rules:

Rules in a game are to make it fun and safe. Breaking them is not only unsafe but also dishonest. A victory won by following the rules is an earned one, making it more fun and giving kids a real sense of pride. Winning by cheating hurts everyone involved and doesn’t induce the same feeling of pride.Cheaters never prosper!

-Respect the Referees Calls:

Referees know the rulebook inside out. They are there to keep the game fair, safe and fun. Respecting the referees call is as much part of the game as playing it. It is part of being a good team player and having a positive attitude towards the rules. A team player recognizes the rules apply to all their team but knows how to own their individual mistakes without fighting the ref!

-Learns (and Leads) by Example:

We ask our young athletes to be a good sport, but what about parents and coaches? Good sportsmen take on many shapes and forms, including fans and spectators. Friends and family should be supportive and encouraging, emphasizing that winning is not everything. Parents may not always agree with coaches and referees but maintaining a respectful attitude will be contagious. Your athlete will also want to maintain a positive attitude and pass it on to their team.

Remaining positive during the game is fun and participative. After the results, it may be harder to keep up the good attitude.Losing can be disappointing, but the there is much more to the game.As parents and coaches, we must continue to promote the idea of sports as playing to have fun and to be challenged. This will encourage a continued display of positivity and courtesy-on and off the field.

Even after the game is done, a good sportsman understands how to be a respectful winner and a gracious loser.

After the game, a good sportsman:

-Shakes Hands:

Good sportsmen are respectful winners, recognizing their victory was hard earned without any need to gloat about it. They are sure not to put the other team down, and even offer a high five or a handshake at the end of the game. By recognizing it was a “good game” despite the outcome, young athletes are made aware that a good game is not necessarily one that was won, but played well between two great teams.

-Says “Thank You”:

There are many officials and volunteers behind every youth sports event. Shaking hands with the opposing team is important, but recognizing the officials is as well.Expressing gratitude towards the referees and coaches demonstrates an acknowledgment of the team behind the team-those who make their games possible!

-Avoids Trash Talk:

On and off the field! Being mean to opponents is disrespectful to them, to the game and to your athlete’s own team. Even if the other team doesn’t hear the comments, it is a poor reflection of integrity and sportsmanship. Talk positively with your athlete after the game, about the loss or victory and speak well of the other teams and parents.

Good sportsmanship does not come easily to children, as they feel naturally competitive. As parents and coaches, we must continue to encourage positive attitudes and construct healthy concepts of winning and losing. By teaching and role modeling, we can help our kids learn this valuable life skill.

Gifting Your Athlete this Holiday Season- 8 Ideas to Wrap Up This Year

The season for summer and fall sports has ended, and Winter sports are starting and bringing with them the holidays.

During winter holidays student-athletes have the chance to take a break from schoolwork to enjoy time with their family and friends. Parents sometimes worry about the extra spending for the holidays and think they have to buy big gifts for their rising student-athletes. Yet, downtime may actually be the best and most appreciated gift for any student or athlete. Letting your child rest and helping them prepare for the next year will be sure to lighten up your Holiday spending. 8 Affordable Gift Ideas for Student-Athletes:

Socks and Warm Apparel

Socks are very practical and affordable stocking stuffers to help your student-athlete through the cold and snowy winter months. The more socks, the merrier. Winter athletes and water athletes should always have at least one extra pair of socks with them at every practice and game. Long underwear or thermal layers to put under practice clothes or game jerseys also make great gifts that they can wear under their uniforms to keep warm.

New Backpack

The next school year may still be a few months away, but classes and sports can require heavy-duty equipment to tote around the books and gear throughout the school year. If your student recently made a big transition, started high school or gone into a new sport, it might be time for an upgrade.

New Gear

Gear doesn’t have to mean hockey sticks or the hot new cleats.

Athlete and student gear can be extensive, but reliable equipment is necessary to keep them safe. Gear such, as knee pads and helmets, is typically required before the sport can be practiced meaning they might already have everything they need, but, sometimes an upgrade can help your student-athlete get the edge during the season. Avoid oral and facial injuries, which are common in sports, with a new mouth guard. It is an easily overlooked gift, but mouth guards can get worn easily and can be quickly forgotten when it is time to replace gear. Goggles are also an overlooked gift during the holiday season. Protecting the eyes from debris, stray balls or even the sun (polarized glasses), is a gift that can defend your student-athlete all season long.

Books

Books never go out of style as a gift. With a variety of genres and subject matter, there are books about secrets tips and tricks to help your student-athlete get a step ahead during their off-season. Reading lists are always up on school websites, never making it too soon to start ordering for next semester. Informational books make good reads for the time in between classes or while waiting for practice to start. Reading about sports can be just as important as actually playing on the field. Help your student-athlete learn from others that have played the game before them.

Foam Roller

Not just for the gym, foam rollers can help everyone with stretching regardless of activity levels. Foam rollers are typically used after a workout to massage the muscles and access sore spots to speed up muscle recovery.  Rollers can be used at any time to get a good stretch before catching the bus in the mornings or after a big game. Students sit through their class days, building tension in their muscles and joints and a good foam roller can help alleviate stiffness of static muscles. This makes an excellent gift for parents, as there’s nothing like rolling out after a long day at the office.

Hand and Toe Warmers

Warmers are great cold-weather gift for your winter athlete. The cold won’t stop dedicated athletes from training this season. Winter is an excellent time for conditioning. Keeping the core warm is essential, but heat escapes first from the extremities. Hand and toe warmers will ensure your winter athlete is efficiently using their body heat and maintaining consistent body temperature. Both athletes and parents can benefit from these little packets at outdoor events. Warm up those hands to help you cheer on your athlete and their teammates more comfortable with warm fingers.

A Team Jersey or Jacket

Favorite team jersey is a popular Holiday gift. Their own custom team jersey, however, may be even more exciting. You child feels proud to wear their school's colors as they get to a greater sense of being part of the team. Sports gear is usually designed for the specific sport (eg. waterproof, spandex, windbreakers, cold gear, etc.), but can also show team spirit as your student-athlete represents their team off the field as well. Also, team gear gives a sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie, helping your athlete grow closer to their team.

Downtime

A break after a fall semester is just what your student wants and needs:No school, no practices but lots of food and family time. Sleeping in and snow days may have been the only things they put on their wish lists this year. The Holidays don’t have to be expensive when finding the perfect gift for your student-athlete. Simplify your winter this year by thinking practically about your student athlete’s needs. 

Helping Your Child Learn from Mistakes

Helping your child learn from mistakes

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”― Michael Jordan 

Every person experiences failure at some point in their life, and that's okay. 

For many children their first encounter with failure is in sports, so why not take advantage of this to teach them some valuable life lessons? 

While the topic of everybody receiving a participation trophy is always one of debate, you can teach your children how to deal with failure either way.

Lost Game

This is the most apparent form of failure in sports and has happened to every single player in the sports industry; it’s a matter of how one deals with the loss that makes the difference.

In one extreme a loss may be followed by criticism and scolding; on the other side of the extreme a loss may be supported by the classic, “it’s not your fault,” or, “it’s just a game.” 

Neither of these makes you a bad parent but it is something that is far too easy to fall into the habit of, and you are missing vital opportunities to teach your children how to deal with loss or failure. 

Talk to your children about how they are feeling, so they learn to understand their emotions. 

It is also helpful to walk through the game with your child. 

What were the negatives and positives of the game? 

What could they have done differently? 

Most importantly, what can they practice this week to help them improve in their next game. This is possibly the most important and skipped part to cover because failure is a chance to learn from mistakes and become better; but, you don’t become better by merely thinking it, you can only become better by practicing or adapting to change.

Getting Cut

There is nothing worse than seeing your child have no doubts that they were going to make the team and then see their heart get shattered when they are cut. 

This again can be an excellent opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. Sometimes what we want doesn’t always work out.

It's important for your child not to let it defeat them and instead understand why they didn't make the team. 

Some of the same questions are good to ask here.

What can they practice on this season to assure that they make the team next season? 

We can also talk about how things don’t always go our way, and that's ok. 

JK Rowling got turned down by multiple publishers before Harry Potter was published and became a massive success. Maybe it’s because people did not see what she was capable of before, or perhaps she continued to take the critics and better her edits. 

Whatever the case, she did not let this stop her from trying. She kept putting herself out there and accepting the fact that she might hit criticism with the hope that someday, someone would see her greatness. 

This is how we need to teach our kids to view a situation like being cut from a team. 

While it is not what they wanted, they can’t let what one coach let down, stop them from pursuing the sport that they love.

Not Being Captain

This may seem silly, but many older athletes feel they not only need to make the team, but they need to be the best on the team, and they need to be in charge, and when they are not picked as Captain, it is a downer. 

This is a simple lesson to teach your kids that will change their life. 

Everyone can't be the best, it's impossible. But it's essential that they learn from the best and continue to strive for the top and give it their all. 

Just because a teammate is better for the position than them, does not mean that your child is not valuable. 

Just because they are not considered the best, does not mean that they've failed; they are still a vital part of the structure of the team. 

Seems simple, right?

Many kids feel like they are letting their parents, coaches, and themselves down when they are not the top pick, but hearing someone say that they are still valued, and they don't need to be captain, can help their outlook on the situation. 

Nobody wants to see their kids fail in any aspect in life, but if you do not teach your child how to handle failure, you are setting them up for even bigger failures in their future. 

Always encourage your child to do better, and that doesn't mean no failure. 

It may sound cliche when you tell them that it is a learning experience rather than a failure, but saying it often helps them process failure in a positive way that will help them throughout their life.


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