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How to Encourage Sportsmanship in Soccer

Kids and parents alike love soccer, and the sport is easy to get swept up in emotionally. Fans and players around the globe have wept, cheered, and fought over soccer. However, there’s more to the sport than wins and losses. Sportsmanship is a valuable lesson that children involved in youth league soccer should learn to benefit them for the rest of their lives. Here are a few ways to encourage good sportsmanship on and off the field. 

Acknowledge the losses.  

No one likes losing; losing is hard! Younger children can struggle with giving it their all on the field and still coming up short. However, bad sportsmanship is placing blame on a teammate, ref, coach, or opponent for the loss. Acknowledge that the loss happened, and talk about positive ways your team can move forward together. 

Celebrate everyone getting a chance to play. 

Even in competitive leagues, everyone deserves a chance to get on the field and do what they love — play soccer! That’s what brings us all together in the first place! Children (and parents) should have a positive attitude toward players who aren’t as skilled. The whole goal is to get better as a team rather than push a few skilled players. 

Respect the referees — even when you disagree with them.

This can be hard for parents and players alike. Refs are charged with making difficult decisions about plays in the game. Good sportsmanship means that you accept a call when it doesn’t go in your favor. (And when it does happen to go in your favor, don’t gloat.) Keep in mind that one call is only one call in a long game. Shake the call off and keep playing. 

Always shake hands. 

Win or lose, end on a positive note with the opposing team. It can be hard to shake hands with another team after a bitter loss, but shaking hands acknowledges that you can move past a win or a loss. 

At FC Highland, we believe that better people make better players. Sportsmanship, trust, and passion are some of the few qualities that we focus on in addition to skills. If you’re looking for a way to get your kid involved with soccer, try our development league. If your child already loves soccer and has experience, register for our competitive league. And if you’ve still got questions for us, contact us and our team will get back to you.