After having gone to a LOT of kids BJJ tournaments (and other youth sports events), I think we can all agree that the worst examples of sportsmanship always come from the same group of people: parents.
Keeping in mind that our kids are learning more by what we do rather than what we say, here are three easy ways for you to teach sportsmanship to your kids:
- Whether you are in the stands or right on the mat, make sure you cheer for all the kids, especially those on other teams. You have no idea how different the atmosphere becomes when parents go out of their way to applaud great submissions, sweeps, and takedowns no matter who does it.
- Talk to all of the parents. They aren’t the enemy and there is nothing cooler than your child having friends from all over the area because you went out of your way to meet and talk to other parents from different teams, cities, countries, etc.
- If you’ve chosen a good coach for your child, just enjoy being able to be a spectator and a parent at tournaments. Resist the urge to critique your child or the other children. Don’t focus on the kids’ mistakes. Show them what being a parent is all about: motivating, and encouraging. Leave the psyching-up, critiquing, goal-setting, training, etc. to their coach.