Good sportsmanship is essential in soccer because it allows everyone to focus on this fantastic sport rather than pointing fingers at people for doing the right or wrong things. When the game is played with good sportsmanship all around, it’s a better experience for players, coaches, fans and referees.
There are plenty of ways to show good sportsmanship in soccer, but we think five below are the most important. Whether you are a parent, a player, or a coach, you should always keep these five things in mind.
Win and Lose the Right Way
Winning feels great, plain and simple. But it’s so important to win the right way. No matter what happened during the game, it’s never right to show up your opponent. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating with your teammates, but you should also remember to shake your opponents’ hands. Remember that you won’t always be on the winning side.
Speaking of being on the losing side of things, you should also know how to accept defeat the right way. It is natural to feel a little bit of anger and frustration when you lose, but you can’t let those emotions get the better of you. Shake hands win your opponents and then focus (with your teammates) on improving before your next game.
Know and Follow the Rules
Learning the rules of soccer will limit those moments where you could potentially show bad sportsmanship. It can be pretty frustrating to think that you followed a rule when you actually didn’t, so you could potentially react the wrong way; then it becomes an embarrassing moment when you realize that you were wrong all along.
Too many players (and parents) don’t take the time to read their league’s rulebook. Doing so will teach you how to play the game the right way and will allow you to quickly accept when you have broken a rule, however minor or major it is.
Respect the Referees
Referees are in charge on the soccer field, so everyone must respect their decisions. Even if they happen to get a call wrong, it is never a good idea to argue with them. First of all, it is against the rules, and secondly, they are never going to change a call simply because someone disagreed with them.
Remember that refs are human beings, too, and they have a tough job. This is one part of sportsmanship that even the pros forget about, so try to keep it in mind at all times and never at disrespectful towards them.
You might disagree with this one, but we feel that there is never a good reason to showboat while playing in a soccer game. It’s not a problem when you are on the practice field with your teammates and are just goofing around, but stay classy when opposing teams are sharing the field with your team.
It’s important to point out that there’s a difference between making a cool soccer move and showboating. If the move that you use helps you get past your opponent, then that is not showboating. If, however, you go out of your way to show up an opponent when you could have made a simple move, then that is usually considered showboating.
“We” Before “Me”
It’s also important to be a good sport with your teammates. Being a selfish soccer player can make your entire team lose chemistry, which is never a good thing. The best teams have good chemistry, so that should always be your goal while playing this great team sport.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a team leader, but that means that you help your teammates rather than just trying to do everything on your own. Aim to be a great team captain and then you can lead by example, which includes showing good sportsmanship at all times.