Everyone wants to win. However, true athleticism is knowing how to be better and lose with humility and respect. You have to teach young athletes to win and lose with honor. When athletes think winning is everything, they resort to cheating when they feel they need to be the best and the odds are against them. Cheating leads to more cheating, especially when you get away with it. Your athletes will sell themselves and their skills, short. “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”-John Wooden
Cheaters Never Prosper
If you cheat once and get away with it, you will develop your skills to be a better cheater and not be a better player. Some young athletes have high expectations of their abilities, as well as some parents and coaches. If your child feels they cannot live and compete up to the bar you set, they may act out with different behaviors like cheating and flopping to make up for low skill sets perceived as high. Cheating is one way to make themselves look good. Your child needs to know that this behavior will not develop their skills nor improve their performance.
You Lose Credibility
One reason to discourage cheating is that other parents and coaches will look at your young athlete differently. They will know that your athlete is going to try and cheat in some way. This ruins the game for everyone and destroys fair play as well as their credibility. Instead, teach your athletes the rules of the game and what is a penalty and not. And, playing to the best of their abilities is more admirable and improves their skills.
Watch Sports On TV With Your Child
Point out a player’s good efforts, as well as the ones who cheat to try and draw a penalty. Show them how this is not correct and is not enjoyable to watch. For example, flopping, especially in soccer where every time they get touch by the opponent, it is like someone dropped a boulder on their foot, soon to stand up and be ok. Faking a penalty and taking advantage is not athleticism. This is not the way to play and is a bad role model for kids to see because they think it is correct. You need to explain to your child this is not fair play. Teach your young athlete when they fall to get back up.
Be A Role Model
If you are playing a game or sport with your child, lose on purpose. Or if you lose, say that was a great game and that you played your best and still lost and it was fun. Your young athlete needs to understand that losing is ok and can be fun, especially when they play their best. Also, educate your athlete about how professionals cheat because of higher stakes, like salaries and financial gain. It does not make it right and serves as a poor role model, and, they should not mimic this behavior.
Develop Their Skills
Playing youth sports is perfect for developing skills. When your athlete has excellent playing skills, they are less likely to cheat and use their skills on the field.
Learn to be a Gracious Loser
“It is better to fail honestly than to win by cheating.”- Sophocles. A young player needs to understand how to enjoy the win and graciously lose. There is nothing wrong with winning and nothing wrong with losing. This is why fun is the main component of playing sport. Everyone loses. It is what the athletes do with the loss that makes or breaks them. Losing is a guide to self-improvement, to make the athlete better by overcoming and achieving victory. However, the ego steps in to create a shortcut by cheating. Cheating sells your athletes short and causes them to do it more often, undermining their athletic potential. Wanting to win, for the love of the crowd, and to always be in the spotlight, is addictive.
The best way to play is by having fun and playing by the rules. If you teach your child how training hard, effort, and evolving their skills makes them feel good about themselves, they will be honest when they play.
Make sure your child understands fair play and that losing is not a prelude to failure. And failure does not mean you cheat. Your child cheats because of their fear of failure. Make them self-confident and passionate about their sport, and their heart will do the rest. Self-confidence instills the thought that the athlete can overcome challenges and adversity and not resort or need to cheat. This will help them trust their skills on the field and reach a higher level of athleticism.