Good sportsmanship philosophies practiced and preached by parents help keep the game fun for the kids involved.
Youth sports were created as a way to bring kids together for healthy physical activity and group play. Over the years it has become a $19 billion industry that causes children and parents stress, anxiety, and even injuries. In order to ensure that children focus on having fun playing a game with their friends, parents can take some steps to ensure that good sportsmanship dominates the field instead of unnecessary pressures and unhealthy competitive habits.
Stanford Children’s Health is one medical institution promoting good behavior in youth sports. Like many organizations and families working to ensure that children are allowed to enjoy playing on teams, they list simple sportsmanship philosophies that parents and caring coaches have instilled for generations. The most important step is for everyone involved to show respect.
Children need to respect each other by being kind no matter if they win or lose. This is often best directed by parents and coaches. Coaches cannot push kids too hard and need to respect that children are there to play and have fun. Parents who are watching during practices and games should also remember this in order to not heckle the kids on the other team, their parents, or pressure their children too much.
Another important step toward ensuring that youth sports remain lighthearted and fun is that mistakes should not be excessively punished, but utilized as learning experiences. If a player drops a ball, goes out of bounds, or even receives a penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior they need to know that although their actions have consequences, they can learn from these negative experiences to improve their skills in the future. Coaches and parents who overstep their boundaries or mess up can also learn from their mistakes and apologize to children or family members if they get out of line or become too competitive.
One of the most important philosophies of maintaining happy fun youth sports practices is to teach children to always do their best and to take care of themselves. Players cannot perform well and avoid injury if they haven’t had enough sleep or adequate meals. Providing plenty of water and healthy snack breaks with fruits and readily available foods like trail mix gives players the fuel they need to remain healthy and enjoy their practices and games.
Childhood hunger is a serious concern. Especially being that the pandemic caused more families to enter into poverty. Youth sports communities and sponsors can better serve participating families by offering aid if anyone is struggling, discounting programs for underprivileged students, and also providing scholarship programs to families in need so they do not have to pay expensive team fees or travel rates for away games.
Youth sports are supposed to enrich children’s lives with fun teamwork skills. Kids learn to play well with others while caring for their bodies, learning from mistakes, and being respectful of everyone involved. These are simple concepts that may be more difficult to put into practice during specific events, but are important elements of maintaining good sportsmanship to ensure that games remain playful and fun.