Marina Times – Life Lessons in Sports for Young People

We have spent the last few weeks fascinated by the Winter Olympics. We watched every night together as a family, each of us having a favorite sport, event or athlete that we cheer on. It struck me how difficult it was to watch our favorites lose. Whether they missed a gate, lost control, or crashed, the angst and disappointment was heartbreaking, especially after all that practice. Within seconds, something can go wrong. Sometimes the pressure on these athletes seemed almost too much. We quickly forget that they are only human beings and when competing sometimes things happen that are under an athlete’s control.

There are so many great lessons for parents to learn and children, especially those who enjoy competition. Here are a few that I would like to share:


Here in the Bay Area, we don’t have to look far for athletes who epitomize hard work. Whether it’s Steph Curry breaking another record, Klay Thompson returning from a devastating injury, or Jimmy G.’s rocky season, these athletes are proving that hard work and determination are key to being one of the greatest.

Both of my sons play basketball and I like to remind them that Steph didn’t get very good at three-point shooting without a lot of practice. If you want to make a special team, set a new personal best or do circuits, it takes practice, and lots of practice. Most of our children may not become collegiate or professional athletes, but the value of a strong work ethic and lessons in commitment and teamwork will help them in their careers and beyond.


Sportsmanship is something taught but also modelled. From an early age by playing games like Go Fish or Candyland, we can teach our children the importance of following the rules and being fair. Whether it’s a board game or a sports game, we can teach them “if you win, don’t insist, if you lose, don’t apologize”, and always end with a handful. tomorrow. In our house, win or lose, look the other person in the eye, shake hands and say “good game”.

As a coach of many youth teams, I have always insisted on lining up and clapping the hands of the other team at the end of the game. I also always thanked the referee and strongly encouraged the children to do the same. When I’m not the coach, I make sure my kids thank the coach as well. Part of good sportsmanship is respecting your coaches and officials and not arguing whether or not you like all the calls or decisions.

We also want to make sure our kids show respect for themselves, their teammates by being supportive and for the other team. Our children always listen to us and watch us, and they pay attention to what we shout on TV or in their games. Be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to show good sportsmanship and be encouraging when cheering them on from the touchline.


I grew up playing sports and losing is hard. Watching your child lose can be just as difficult; however, the sooner they can learn the art of winning and losing, the better it will serve them.

Losing, though no one feels good, can be a valuable opportunity to build resilience, confidence, motivation, and self-control. It also encourages humility, so when kids win, they can be respectful and more empathetic to others.

As parents, we can easily get caught up in the results, and sometimes it’s better for our children to focus on their efforts. We don’t care how many bases you score or hits you have if you did your best and had fun. It also helps children learn that their value isn’t tied to winning or losing – our love is unconditional and has nothing to do with the outcome of a match. Give them a hug after the game and point out something they did well.

There is so much to be gained from youth sports that goes far beyond a winning record. Ultimately, we want our children to benefit from the experience, and if we do our job as parents, we hope they will learn and practice the values ​​they have learned from the experience. These values ​​can be applied to all the ups and downs life may bring and will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So as you spend another weekend running from event to event, remember that the gift you give them will last a lifetime.

Liz Farrell is the mother of three and founder of TechTalks, a consulting group to help schools and families have productive conversations about social media and technology. Email: [email protected]

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