Showing Your Manners On & Off The Field

Sportsmanship is a quality that is required when you are on or off the field in sports. It is necessary for players, coaches, spectators and referees.

Sports are a fantastic way of life. They promote exercise, discipline and goal setting for all ages. Whether you are involved in basketball, soccer, football, baseball, martial arts (the list could go on and on) it is vital that everyone display good sports etiquette.

sportsmanshipGrowing up I played on a lot of different soccer teams and swam competitively. My family was involved up to our noses in one sport or another. The one thing that I remember is that we were always expected to be respectful to the refs, judges, opponents, coaches and spectators. If there was an issue, my parents were not shy about yanking us out of the game or off the field.

That impression has stayed with me now that my children are participating in basketball and martial arts. They understand that they are to have the utmost respect for everyone involved. It has been through example that they have learned this.

What is Sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is simple. It is using the golden rule when you are playing, coaching or watching. Treat the players, coaches, spectators like you want to be treated, especially when things get heated. It means:
  • Learning your sport. Know and understand the rules and the different plays involved.
  • Play clean. The only thing that comes from a dirty play is a trip to the emergency room.
  • Keep your comments positive. It is important that the players hear that they are doing good. I have never been motivated when a coach or fan has told me that I am doing a horrible job.
  • Congratulate the other team on a job well done.
  • Accept calls from refs gracefully and play on. Even if you don't agree with them, they are still human and are prone to making mistakes.
The manner in which you play the game will show your sportsmanship more than anything. Use the following to bring your manners A-game:
  • Practice your sport on the field and off. If you are on a team, be the best you can for your team.
  • Hone your skills. Use them to get inside your opponent's head rather than your trash talking. I love to watch when a good player walks onto the court...the other team either shows fear or determination.
  • Coaches respect your players. They will learn from you. Teach them passion for the sport, good manners and dignity. 
  • Parents let the coach do their job. The best thing for you to do is yell encouragement to the players. You do not know what the coach is trying to do with their players, so let them do their job.
  • Remember to let things go. This is hard in the heat of competition, especially when the ref makes a call you do not agree with or another player is trying to get inside your head. Show your class and maturity by walking away and playing through it all.

Be The Example

Children need examples in every aspect of their lives...sportsmanship is no different. It starts when they are young and continues throughout their lives. It is vital for parents and coaches to show how to treat opponents and others during games and away from games.


You are the number one example that the child has. It is vital that you stay positive for your child. Keep all comments and encouragements constructive. They are learning and developing at their own rate. Let them experience the sport for themselves and not your glory days. It is important that you recognize when they are not ready for a certain sport or if they need a break. Allow them time to grow and become who they are.

Take the time to help them develop their skills off the court or field. If they are having a hard time with a certain skill, take some one-on-one time with them. They will eat it up.

At game time, show good manners by being positive about your child, their team and the opponents. Cheer them on, even if they are not having their best game. It is easier to do better when you feel like you are accepted even when you aren't playing your best.


You are there to teach the kids about the game. Your example of how you treat your players, the opponents, parents, and refs will be reflected in your players. If you are a goal setter and desire their best performance, then that is what you will get. If you are cutthroat, win at all costs then that is what your players will be. Remember what they learn on the court, field is what they will take with them into life.

Be positive with your players. Tell them and show them that they are winners. Focus on their performances. Work on weaknesses in a constructive way. Help them develop their skills and their characters all at the same time.

In any place in life be the best you can be. It is appropriate to demand this from your players, coaches and parents. Using sportstmanship will give you the edge on the field and off.

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