One of our goals is for our athletes to have a fun, memorable experience training and competing in track and field. One way to ensure this occurs is by all participants displaying sportsmanship. Sportsmanship can be shown through verbal praise ("Great job!", "You ran so fast!", "I'm so proud of your hard work!"), non-verbal praise (handshakes, high fives, cheering), or a combination of both behaviors by athletes, coaches, and parents.
What we want to avoid is displaying poor sportsmanship. Research shows that athletes are affected by how their parents or coaches act as such through yelling, disobeying athlete's wishes, disrespecting opponents or teammates, punishment, and using a negative tone while communicating. As you can see, that infographic shows common actions shown by parents that dictates good and bad sportsmanship.
Now you know that there are various ways parents can support their child through sport!
Click the button to learn more about promoting sportsmanship in youth sport
How-To Be a Great Sport
"Parents must learn to be child-centered and must provide constatnt support and encouragement to all young athletes in an attempt to increase enjoyment and self-esteem for all participants" (Christofferson & Bradford, 2016).
As parents, the best way to be a great sport while watching your child compete or train is to encourage them. A few ways to do so are:
Use positive body language (avoid crossing your arms, stomping when hearing a bad call, or walking away from the competition)
Use positive reinforcement (give praise to your child when they perform good behavior, this can promote repeat positive behavior from the athlete)
Form a cheering section with other parents on the team (cheer for great performances, encourage trying and competing, and applaud other opponents)
Motivate athletes to have fun with track and field
Click the button to read how various factors of parental pressure affects youth athletes
To increase sportsmanship, one must develop open and honest communication between all members involved. Try the following methods:
Be aware of your reactions while spectating (how would you feel if someone reacted negatively to your performance?)
Ask the coach or another parent if you are unsure about a call or measurement
Allow the coach to do their job and train and help your athlete to the best of their ability (avoid criticizing a method if you have never seen it, refrain from interfering during practice)
Click the button to see how to enhance the coach-parent relationship for the benefit of youth athletes