School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services
University Of Northern Iowa
Parents often enroll their child in a sport program to build the child’s character. Sport participation by itself, however, does not develop character in athletes. Just like any physical skill, athletes need to be taught positive behaviors. Coaches play a vital role in developing positive attitudes and behaviors in their athletes. Two major ways that coaches can develop good sport conduct is via positive role modeling and actively teaching good sport conduct.
Good sport conduct or sportspersonship is the behaviors appropriate of a sport participant. Sportspersonship occurs when athletes show respect and concern to opponents, teammates, coaches, and officials. In other words, coaches should teach their athletes to “treat others, as you would like to be treated.” Sportspersonship is an important issue facing all people involved in athletics. Episodes of coaches, parents, and athletes behaving poorly at sporting events are often reported in newspapers and on television.
Examples of good sport conduct include:
Examples of poor sport conduct include:
There are many ways that you can teach sportspersonship to your players, but the most important way is for you to model good sport conduct.
Knute Rockne, former football coach of Notre Dame, said “One man practicing good sportsmanship is far better than 50 others preaching it.”
Young players look to their coaches as role models and are likely to observe their coaches’ behaviors. It is unlikely that athletes will be able to control their behaviors, if their coaches are unable to control their own behavior. Coaches who show respect to officials and opponents before, during, and after games can truly expect their players to do the same.
Examples of showing respect to officials
Examples of showing respect to opponents
During practices and games, it is imperative that coaches remain under control during interactions with players, assistant coaches, officials, and opposing coaches. Parents observing the good sportspersonship attitude of their children’s coach will soon understand the responsibility they have to engage in good sport conduct as spectators.