Teaching Young Athletes to Own Their Actions

We all know youth sports can teach kids about failure, and that’s not a bad thing. But kids can also learn early on that blaming others for such failures might be an easy way out of shame or trouble. And it’s important to nip the blame game in the bud, and even help young athletes view failure as a positive.

First, it’s important to understand what ‘blame’ might sound like. It can be subtle, and some examples you might hear include:

“My teammate threw a bad pass.”

“My coach got mad at me, and I couldn’t think.”

“My sister/brother did it!”

Maybe the coach did yell, or Mom did get mad. But another person’s behavior does not have to define a response—and this is a lesson your child needs to hear and learn from you.

To start, encourage your child to ask him or herself these questions:

  • Did I play a part in this problem?
  • If so, what could I have done differently?
  • How can I help resolve the issue and stay away from blaming others? (This question in particular helps kids own responsibility for their actions, and learn ways to move forward for the better.)

Blame might feel good for just a moment. It justifies anger and covers insecurities. But in the end, it does nothing to make a player, parent or coach perform better. Failure on the other hand can always make way for improvement.


Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.

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