Putting sportsmanship back in youth sports

November 5, 2007 Jim Thompson founded a group called Positive Coaching Alliance, which started at Stanford University. Coaches across the country picked it up. In fact, Phil Jackson used some of his techniques in coaching the Bulls during their championship runs.

Thompson holds workshops around the country teaching coaches and parents how to coach positively and encourage kids to learn valuable life lessons while playing sports. Thompson suggests the following as guidelines for honoring the game:

The key to preventing adult misbehavior in youth sports is a youth sports culture in which all involved "Honor the Game." Honoring the Game gets to the ROOTS of the matter and involves respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and one's Self. You don't bend the rules to win. You understand that a worthy opponent is a gift that forces you to play to your highest potential. You show respect for officials even when you disagree. You refuse to do anything that embarrasses your team. You live up to your own standards even if others don't. Here are ways that parents can create a positive youth sports culture so that children will have fun and learn positive character traits to last a lifetime.

Before the Game:

1. Make a commitment to Honor the Game in action and language no matter what others may do.

2. Tell your child before each game that you are proud of him or her regardless of how well he or she plays.

During the Game:

1. Fill your children's "Emotional Tank" through praise and positive recognition so they can play their very best.

2. Don't give instructions to your child during the game. Let the coach correct player mistakes.

3. Cheer good plays by both teams (this is advanced behavior!)

4. Mention good calls by the official to other parents.

5. If an official makes a "bad" call against your team? Honor the Game—BE SILENT!

6. If another parent on your team yells at an official? Gently remind him or her to Honor the Game.

7. Don't do anything in the heat of the moment that you will regret after the game. Ask yourself, "Will this embarrass my child or the team?"

8. Remember to have fun! Enjoy the game.

After the Game:

1. Thank the officials for doing a difficult job for little or no pay.

2. Thank the coaches for their commitment and effort.

3. Don't give advice. Instead ask your child what he or she thought about the game and then LISTEN. Listening fills Emotional Tanks.

4. Tell your child again that you are proud of him or her, whether the team won or lost.

Jim Thompson is holding a free workshop for parents of children from preschool to 12th grade on Tuesday, November 6th from 7-9pm, at Lake Forest Academy at 1500 W. Kennedy Road in Lake Forest.


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