Teaching kids the correct technique, developing and improving their skills, and winning games are all important things to focus on as a volleyball coach, but teaching good sportsmanship is also right up there.
Regardless if you win or lose, you want to teach these kids good behavior and sportsmanship, as it is so important for their personal growth and life beyond the volleyball court.
Here are 5 great ways you can instill great sportsmanship in the group of kids you are coaching.
Talk About Sportsmanship
Talking about the value of good sportsmanship is just as valuable as showing the kids what good sportsmanship looks like. Therefore, whenever you have an opportunity, talk and reinforce the importance of good sportsmanship to instill this quality in your players.
Talk about great acts of sportsmanship you have seen, and why that person and their actions are admired. Better yet, show clips of great sportsmanship so they know what it looks like.
Recognize Good Sportsmanship
There is no better way to instill the value of sportsmanship than recognizing displays of good sportsmanship. Let the players know that you admire and appreciate the sportsmanship they showed during practice or a match whether it came from your own team or the opposing team.
In our opinion, if you win but don’t play fair, then you don’t really win at all. Following the rules and playing the game within the rules without attempting to bypass them in any way, is the bare minimum required of good sportsmanship. Winning without playing fairly is always considered a loss in our book. Teach your players that the rules of volleyball are there for a reason and there isn’t any flexibility when it comes to breaking them.
Equal Opportunity to Play
In youth volleyball, it’s normal to see players with a wide range of abilities. In any case, though, it’s important to encourage all players – from the most skilled to the least skilled – to play the game, and to give each and every player equal playing time. Let your players know that any one player isn’t more deserving or valuable than another player just because they might be better than another player on the team.
Set the Mood on Game Day
On game day, make sure that you greet the opposing coach and officials with a friendly smile and handshake. This shows that you respect the game and other individuals while also helping to set a positive tone from the very start.
To go one step further, before the game you can make an agreement with the opposing coach to encourage positive feedback of their players from you, and your players by them. This is a great way to show that you don’t necessarily have to be on the same side to demonstrate encouragement, admiration, and appreciation.
Treat Officials Well
If you as the coach start shouting and blaming the officials, don’t be surprised if you see your players soon follow. After all, if the coach is doing it, it must be okay, right? Your players are going to take their cue from you, so show respect toward officials by avoiding yelling at them or questioning their calls, even though you might think that you are in the right and they are in the wrong.
Shake Hands After the Game
There’s no denying that winning makes everything easier, especially when it comes to graciously shaking the hands of the opposing team’s players and coaches after the game. But win or lose, make sure that your players line up to shake hands once the game is over.
If you’re on the winning side, make sure that your players let the opposing team know that they played a good game. If you’re on the losing side, make sure that your players congratulate their opponents.