Headmaster, Robert Upton, writes a weekly blog post.
The most recent post is below and past posts can be found using the links on this page.
Many adults love sports, and it is easy to get caught up in a game to the extent that we become focused on winning. Yet there is much more to be gained from the sports experience than a winning record. When children are involved in sports, they are able to learn and put into practice values that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Good sportsmanship, or rather the “behaviour and attitudes that show respect for the rules of a game and for the other players” (Collins English Dictionary) is one of the life lessons that children can learn from sports. Wikipedia suggests it is “an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors.” We can help children understand and value good sporting behaviour and values while making sure they have a safe and fun sports experience. It may seem hard to define, but its hallmarks include being able to win without gloating, respecting one's opponents and being able to lose gracefully.
Here are six top tips for developing an effective sporting attitude:
1. If you lose, do not make up excuses.
2. If you win, do not rub it in.
3. Learn from mistakes and get back in the game.
4. Always do your best.
5. If someone else makes a mistake, remain encouraging and avoid criticising.
6. Show respect for yourself, your team, and the officials of the game.
As adults we are important role models, so so we must let children see us upholding these principles, whether we play a sport ourselves or root for our child's team from the sidelines.
Tips for teaching a good sporting attitude
- Avoid arguing. Stay focused on the game instead of giving in to anger with teammates, coaches, or referees. Always avoid using bad language and negative words.
- Everyone should have a chance to play. In early sports development, it is important to encourage even those players who are the least skilled to have fun playing in the game. Parents, coaches and even other players have an important role in allowing less talented teammates time to participate.
- Play fair. Good sports players want to win because they followed the rules and played the best game they could. Never support any effort to win that attempts to go around the rules. Cheating is not acceptable.
- Follow directions. Emphasise the importance of listening to coaches and referees and following their directions while on the field and involved in team activities.
- Respect the other team. Whether your team wins or loses, it is important to show respect for the effort of the other team. If the other team wins, accept defeat, acknowledge their abilities, and move on. If your team wins, resist bragging—that is what it means to be a gracious winner.
- Encourage teammates. Team sports work best when each individual supports the team. Praise teammates for what they do well and encourage them when they make mistakes. Avoid criticism and unkind actions. We should all model this behaviour for children by praising them for specific things they have done well, even if they made a mistake or may not have played as well as hoped.
- Respect the decisions of referees and other officials. These people are charged with making difficult decisions about play in the game. A good sporting attitude requires that you accept a call, even if you disagree with it.
- End with a handshake. Good sports players enjoy sports and know how to end a game on a positive note, whether or not they won. Threats, anger, criticism, and other negative expressions are not acceptable.
I attended the Senior Wessex Athletics event in Bournemouth this week where a large number of our children were competing. On a regular basis, after a race had finished, children from Yateley Manor were the first to offer their hands to congratulate other participants, irrespective of placings. It really was incredible to watch and made me feel very proud of the children. We are preparing children for successful adult lives and we do consider the ability to play sport with good attitude and behaviour as part of the preparation for their future.
I am sure you will have noticed the support that the children also gave to one another at the Sports Day for Years 3-8 today. From running alongside the last competitor as they made their way down the home straight to cheering and congratulating each other for doing their best, it was a wholly positive sporting environment. There is no doubt in my mind that it is one of my favourite events of the year. It absolutely encapsulates what it means to be a part of the Yateley Manor community.
Preparation for the future is key. Whether children move on to be rowers or cyclists, cricketers or fencers, we hope to instil in them not only the habits of physical exercise but also the manner in which it should be conducted. Play to the whistle!