ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Teaching Kids Good Sportsmanship in Youth Sports

Updated on June 16, 2009

One of the more significant things about engaging in youth sports is that it teaches ethos, or what is known as sportsmanship. At an early age, the etiquette of sports, particularly the conformance to the spirit and rules of the game, should already be instilled in the minds of the young. Engaging in a certain sport can be a mere passing fancy for kids, but the ethos that they learn in playing the sport can be a lasting value that will have a positive impact on the development of their character and therefore the rest of their lives. Sportsmanship teaches children to aspire for the nobler things about sports—enjoying the activity for its own sake; proper consideration for ethics, fairness, sense of fellowship and respect for teammates and opponents; as well as knowing how to be a good sport when it comes to winning and losing. Above all, sportsmanship teaches kids integrity and how to be better human beings.

Key concepts in sportsmanship

In a lot of ways, sportsmanship has a lot to do with morality or doing the right thing. One of the key concepts of sportsmanship is fair play, which assures that all participants should have equal chances of pursuing victory. The opposite of fair play include cheating, bias, and prejudice, and the concept encompasses not only the players but the coaches, judges, referee, audience, sponsor, organization, parents and everyone who is directly and indirectly involved in the game. Fair play means playing the game and acting towards others in an honest, straightforward and dignified manner; this means abiding by the rules even if others are not acting fairly, as well as respecting teammates, opponents, authorities, and officials. Another core concept of sportsmanship in youth sports is what is termed as ‘character.’ This refers to the disposition, habits and values that determine how a player or person will respond to challenges, desires, opportunities, successes, and failures. Character is usually something that is developed for a long period and is rarely exhibited as a natural tendency among young players. Character can be seen in refined behaviors such as helping an opponent up or giving chance to other teammates when appropriate. Core ethical values are reflected in a player with good character. Sportsmanship also refers to virtues of courage, self-control, determination, and persistence. Moreover, sportsmanship teaches kids to act maturely and properly in cases where they fail or lose a game. Learning to deal with failure and unfavorable conditions is very important to develop fully, especially useful when they grow up and face the real world.

Role models

One way for children to adopt good sportsmanship is by seeing it in the attitudes and behavior of adults including their parents, teachers, coaches, authority figures, and older or professional athletes—especially those that they admire. Leading by example in youth sports is important to instill good values in children. If you teach children by way of instruction but act otherwise, they will only get confused and won’t take the instructions or rules seriously. Kids can be very perceptive when it comes to observing behavior in adults. They easily pick up habits and attitudes like a sponge.

It is also very helpful for kids to have good role models in professional athletes. Young professional athletes with a good track record are good role models for children. Every sport has a stellar athlete that can serve as a good role model for them. Athletes are not perfect though, and oftentimes they get mired in scandals that are highly publicized. When athletes are implicated in scandals, it can have a negative effect on the children’s minds and they may become disillusioned of their idols. When this happens, be sure to talk to the kids about what was wrong about what the athlete did and what the consequences were of his or her actions. While explaining to them that no one is perfect and people make mistakes from time to time, you should stress the importance of abiding by a moral code and that breaking that code can lead to dire and serious consequences that can tarnish their reputation, and more importantly, their integrity, for a long time.


Losing is difficult whether for a child or an adult.  Dealing with failure is something that not many people learn even when they have fully grown up to be functional adults.  Learning how to accept defeat at an early age is vital for developing a healthy mind, but accepting defeat should not also mean an acceptance of being a failure.  Children should be taught to keep their heads up even when they lose a game.   They should be taught that a lot like life, you win some and you lose some.  It should also be instilled in them that losing should encourage them to actually do better next time and learn from their mistakes.  Victory is also sweeter that way—when they have worked hard for it.


When players win a game, there is a natural tendency to boast or gloat about the success. Sportsmanship in youth sports teaches kids how to win gracefully and this means, shaking the hands of their opponents, refraining from name-calling and taunting the other team, and not thinking of their selves as superior just because they won a game. Ideally, sports should foster healthy competition and develop a sense of determination, focus and dedication. Winning may be the ultimate reward for all the hard work but it is not the end-all-and-be-all. After winning, there is always chance to get better and an opportunity to challenge one’s self. Ultimately, sports should be about challenging one’s self and conquering one’s fears, going an extra mile, an extra inch, an extra breath every time. They should learn that their biggest opponent is also their own self, and it is going beyond the self that make for a true sportsman or woman.


Many kids opt out of a sport or a game after being discouraged from a few losses. Some may simply accept that they are not made for sports and are not athletic.  Sports should be an enjoyable activity for everyone, like how playing is enjoyable for any kind of child.  As a parent or a coach, words of encouragement are always helpful for kids to get reassurance that they are worthy to play sports.     


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MichaelBurkesp profile image

      Michael Burke M Ed 

      3 years ago from Rapid City SD

      Nice article. Sports is a great place to learn the lessons of life. If the adults are on board it a great experience.

    • profile image

      Michael Lockamy 

      5 years ago

      Great article. No person...not even the coaches are perfect. But, the players look to us for guidance and authority. At all times, we should display the will to win, the courage to lose and the acceptance of moral victories. We are never losers if we teach our players to compete until the end. This is the mark of a true champion. We can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Using this as a source for a paper in college. Anyone know the publication date?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I would love to be a pro at soccer sportsmanship coach.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing hub! Great read

      Ron from

    • profile image

      Dave Clarke 

      8 years ago

      Sportsmanship is a tricky concept to coach. And for young players, accepting that your team will lose games is a seriously painful experience. Helping young players maintain their commitment and motivation when faced with a defeat (or a run of defeats) is a challenge. Check out these coaching guidelines to help spell out to your young players that they have important responsibilities when they sign up to play for a team.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)