As a responsible mum and dad, it is your duty to train your child to be a good kid in school, at home, and at the soccer field. I have included 9 tips about teaching sportsmanship to kids as a guide you can follow.
This list is not exhaustive but basically, it is about teaching your child to be an outstanding kid with good characters that will lead him to become a better adult.
Also, this applies to all sports and not just soccer.
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1. You are the first coach
Probably your kid was interested in soccer because you are a keen soccer player yourself, or because of the soccer magazines, he found lying around in the house.
Whatever the circumstances, it shows that you are the biggest influence in his upbringing at home.
They copy how you act, what you say, what you like, and what you do, whether good or bad.
OK, that’s scary because nobody is perfect. I am a parent as well and it was quite a challenge sometimes to lead by example.
I learn how to say sorry a lot of times to my kids… oops!
This is a perfect opportunity to instill in their young minds about sportsmanship in soccer.
As a parent, you are the first coach, and your opinions about soccer rules, referees, the players, or the other parents will be taken as an endorsement.
If the 3 questions below describe you then it is time to change those habits for your kid’s sake.
Do you always complain about the referee?
Do you argue with other parents or the coach?
Or, do you throw a mini tantrum when your kid’s soccer team lost the game?
If you are a first-time soccer mom or dad you might want to read my post on Common Soccer Questions And Answers – Introducing Soccer To Parents
2. Losing makes you better
Losing is okay but making excuses and blaming others will not help.
Kids love to win, after all this is why they play, right? For them losing a game can be devastating and some will not accept it.
Some might not want to play soccer again. As a parent take time to discuss with him and slowly steer him towards realizing why that happened.
Maybe his skill level does not match the kids in the opposing team or maybe the other team is simply the best on that day.
After identifying the reason encourage him to work on it and if it is his level of skill then it is time to work on his drills or fitness.
Teach your kid that losing makes him a better player because he will learn from his mistakes. After he corrects his mistakes and practices his drills he will surely succeed.
When losing the game he should lose gracefully and learn to congratulate the winning team. And when he is winning you must congratulate him and teach him not to brag.
3. Earn yourself a good name
Nobody at the soccer field wants to be seated beside a father who argued and abused the referee last week!
Even your wife or kid might not be too eager to sit beside you, or you can be the dad or mum that everyone loves to be around.
You can volunteer to help out as a water boy for your kid’s team or assist the coach in minding the kids during warm-up.
That certainly gives you a good name and you can imagine how proud your kid will be.
You will become a role model for other kids and parents.
That is being a good sport by cooperating with everyone, good teamwork, and making yourself useful for your kid’s sake.
4. Encourage your kid to do the right thing
Never encourage your kid to cheat or bully in soccer because it can be a bad habit that your kid will carry with him in his adult life.
I personally despise bad sportsmanship and I am sure other kids will not appreciate it as well.
Look, we all want our kids to play well and score goals, and his soccer team to win all the time.
But that should not motivate you to think about shortcuts or cutting corners.
Doing the right thing means encouraging your kid to follow all soccer rules and follow the referee’s decision.
It also means your kid must not play aggressively and knowingly trying to cause injuries to other players.
5. Find a role model
Looking up to a great athlete can inspire your kid to become a good sportsman. Most athletes came from an ordinary background just like us that we can relate to.
But they train hard and disciplined themselves and never giving up on their dreams to get to where they are. These are excellent characteristics you must encourage your child to develop.
There are plenty of good books, videos, or even YouTube where you can find these great sport role models.
Today I read in Fox 5 Atlanta story about 11-year old Madison Maddox who played for NASA Tophat in Atlanta.
She got to meet her heroine Emily Sonnett, a US Women’s Soccer Team player who happened to play in her club when she was young.
She was totally inspired and wants to play in the World Cup one day, just like Emily does.
You can Google “Madison maddox+emily sonnett” to find the story.
It’s also doesn’t matter what sport these athletes are playing but your kid needs to be inspired.
6. Focus on the fun of playing soccer
Allow your kid to play soccer for his own enjoyment and not necessarily to win and impress you.
He should not be playing under pressure or fear of punishment if he loses or missed a goal opportunity.
If your child does not perform well maybe because it is his bad day.
Lift up his morale by mentioning how he saved a goal opportunity or the skillful move he might have forgotten.
By promoting fun, your kid will be excited and always look forward to the next game.
Maybe you yourself will be feeling hyped up as well.
7. Encourage fair play
Always encourage your child to respect the Laws of the Game and that begins with you the parent.
The laws are there for a lot of reasons such as the safety of the players, coaches, and spectators.
Decisions made by the referee are final and must be respected.
If you started complaining about the referee’s every decision you will be sending the wrong message to your child and other kids.
Always encourage fair play to your child in all situations.
Fair play means accepting the referee’s decision, instructing your child to play safely at all times, and not intentionally try to injure another child.
Also, you must show your kid you are a good sport by congratulating both teams, irrespective of the result of the match.
8. Always respect games officials and everyone
As a parent, you must always respect the decisions of the coach and referees and teach your kid to do the same thing.
Actively support, encourage, and help volunteers, coaches, organizers, and officials in their work.
Without them, your kid would not have the opportunity to play soccer.
9. End the game with a handshake
Encourage your kid that a good sportsman ends the game with a handshake.
It signifies that he respects his teammates, his opponents, his coach, and the game’s official.
It also signifies that he is a humble person who enjoyed the game and takes no grudges home.
Being a good sportsman will earn your kid admiration and respect from other kids, parents, and opponents.
These characteristics can help your kid later in his life as someone who has integrity, courage, honesty, kindness, and humility.
That is the kind of son and daughter we all want to be proud of.
Enjoy soccer and be safe.
Do you have any other good sportsman characters I missed? Please leave them in the comments below.