There is considerable evidence that the development of character in young athletes can be formed positively, if helped along by sport coaches who implement specific strategies to do so.
- Set the example - Young athletes will look to their coaches to teach them how to respond to a difficult situation - a coach who can effectively control his/her emotions under pressure or in anger is a great example for good sporting behavior. If a coach expects good sporting behaviour, but does not follow the set rules, young athletes receive mixed messages.
- Goal setting - Set team and individual goals, ask them to express how they wish to see themselves grow as players and as a team and help them to accomplish those goals.
- Peer influence - Peers are extremely important in the socialization of young athletes. Establish a peer leader that engages in positive, character-building behaviors and not just those with the greatest skill set.
- Establish guidelines - Make it clear that disrespectful behaviour towards opponents and officials is not tolerated. Let your players know what the expectations are as a team, for example, shaking hands with the opposing team before and after a game, respecting calls from officials, and following the rules of the game.
References from the SIRC Collection:
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2. DiCocco F. The Importance of Character. Texas Coach. August 2012;57(1):34-35.
3. Doty J, Lumpkin A. Do Sports Build or Reveal Character - An Exploratory Study at One Service Academy. (Abstract). Research Quarterly For Exercise & Sport. February 2007;78(1):A-91.
4. Falcão W, Bloom G, Gilbert W. Coaches’ Perceptions of a Coach Training Program Designed to Promote Youth Developmental Outcomes. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology. October 2012;24(4):429-444.
5. Gaines S. Developing Individual and Team Character in Sport. Strategies. November 2012;25(8):30-32.
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7. Welch B. Character team building. Australian Fourfourtwo. October 2011;(72):96.