Encouraging kids to play sports at an early age does more than just develop their physical abilities. Playing and competing on a team teaches kids valuable skills in sportsmanship that can be applied to every facet of their lives. As your kids run, kick and score goals at summer camp, you can enjoy knowing that they are learning these five tenants of being a good sport.
Practice Playing by The Rules
Learning to play fair begins with understanding how to play the game. At summer camp, every coach begins by teaching their athletes the rules of the game. As kids begin to gain skills, these rules are constantly reviewed to make sure everyone knows what behavior on the field is considered out of bounds. If someone does forget the rules on the field, there is always an adult supervising who can provide a gentle reminder.
Respect for Authority
At summer camp, kids look up to their older camp counselors and coaches. Yet, it is also important to teach kids that every authority figure deserves respect. Naturally, it’s hard for kids to bite their tongue when a referee makes a call that seems unfair. That is exactly why coaches model respectful behavior that helps kids learn how to accept another person’s authority with grace. Following a coach’s instruction for practices and training also teaches kids to follow directions, even when they may not feel like it.
Learn from Losses
Kids never like to lose, but it is important for them to learn that everyone can’t be a winner all the time. When a team loses a game at summer camp, team leaders and coaches help keep their spirits high by reminding them that the point of the game is to have fun and learn. Later, campers are encouraged to go over what happened during the game to identify any changes that can be made. Learning how to overcome losses helps campers to see a higher purpose in every game that goes beyond simply earning a trophy.
The exuberance of winning a game is hard to control and kids need to learn that excessive celebration may make the other team feel bad. For this reason, summer camp teams create rituals that promote a sense of wellbeing for both teams after the game. For example, kids like to line up after a game has been played to give each member of the other team a high five. Or, they may all gather at the end to sing the camp song, which promotes unity.
In sports, no player should ever think they accomplished a win alone. In fact, passing the ball, guarding the goal and helping a teammate up after a fall all take teamwork. During a game, kids are encouraged to acknowledge each other’s help. Saying thank you to a teammate or telling a buddy that they did a good job for scoring a goal teaches kids that everyone has to work together to win the game.
Learning to play well with others is a skill that every child needs as they progress through life. Sports at summer camp are designed to ensure every kid learns how to play with good sportsmanship. From respecting authority to comforting a friend after a loss, every kid has the chance to come out of the game a winner.