Sportsmanship is important in any sport, but in minor hockey, it is especially significant. Youth hockey players should develop a strong appreciation of the game. Practicing sportsmanship will help players have fun, stay active, and sharpen skating skills. Safety and respect present a safe atmosphere during practice and matches.
Who Should Practice Sportsmanship
Sportsmanship in minor hockey isn't limited just to players. Coaches, parents, officials, and spectators must set an example for young players. Especially true in younger leagues, coaches need to show sportsmanship by playing all players. Members in the crowd may not always agree with a referee's decision, but adults in attendance must set the tone by not harassing the referee about a call. Minor hockey players will take note, and this mentality will carry through to the players' ranks.
It's about Character
Sportsmanship develops a strong character. Hockey players learn respect. Showing respect to other players, teammates, and coaches establishes a strong sense of character. Respect spills into other attributes. Honesty and integrity instill a sense of fairness that shows on the ice.
It's about Fun
What is the one element of minor hockey that a youth coach can provide? Youth athletics are rewarding, but they also instill a sense of fun. Good sportsmanship ensures that the game provides a safe experience for participants and families. Winning isn't everything. Coaches and parents need to stress to young players that building skills and having fun should be a top priority.
Establish a Code
Adults and minor hockey participants should understand the elements of fair play. Many leagues require parents, coaches, and players to sign a conduct agreement before play begins. Most agreements include these standards:
Sportsmanship is key to all athletic endeavors. Learning how to be respectful and how to have fun will be lessons minor hockey players can use on and off the ice.
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