9 Rules for Sports Parents: Etiquette for Losing

No one likes to lose. But everyone has to do it now and then, some more than others. Losing is simply part of life. Set the example by showing your kids how it’s done, and hopefully they will follow your lead.

  1. Thank the coaches and refs for their work. The game’s outcome doesn’t matter; the refs and coaches did their job and gave their best effort.
  2. Be gracious to the winner. If you know them, make a point to congratulate them. If you don’t, you can still go out of your way to shake a player’s or coach’s hand.
  3. Don’t go home and trash talk the opposing team. Or coaches, or refs, or teammates, for that matter.
  4. Let your kids lose in peace. Choose words after the loss that won’t stir up frustration or self-recriminations. Empathize instead of critique.
  5. Stay positive. Negative attitudes are contagious. As a parent, you have a lot to do with keeping positivity up.
  6. Look for small victories. Find the wins within the losses.
  7. Avoid the blame game. It’s the refs’ fault! If only Johnny wasn’t such a ball hog. It’s your coach’s fault; he was outcoached.
  8. Don’t regurgitate the loss. Learn from mistakes, put it behind, and move on. There’s no need to bemoan it over and over and over and make it a bigger deal than it is.
  9. Don’t make light of it. The loss may have deeply disappointed your child. Don’t try to diminish his feelings of grief. It’s very real to him.

good sport Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills when it comes to losing. As martial arts artist Conor McGregor says, “It’s not really that much of a big deal–you brush it off and you come back. Defeat is the secret ingredient to success.”

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