Love The Game Then Honor The Game

By Steven Embree | Aug. 05, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

Brought to you by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program.

Honor and Respect.

These are the principles we all strive to live by.

And if we want to be recognized as Responsible Coaches and Responsible Sport Parents, our aim us is to put these principles at the heart, soul and center of everything we do – before, during and after the course of competition.

This month at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, we’re going to take a closer look at how coaches and parents can ensure they and their athletes alike honor the game – by respecting the respective sport’s ROOTS

Honoring The Game: The Responsible Coach’s Code.

Responsible Coaches conduct themselves by a code, which the experts at Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) calls “Honoring The Game”.

To remember the components of this code, remind yourself and your players that Honoring The Game means respecting the sport’s ROOTS – where ROOTS is an acronym for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self.

R: Rules

O: Opponents

O: Officials

T: Teammates

S: Self

Introducing “Honoring The Game” To Your Team.

How do you communicate these concepts with your young athletes, who are more prone to erratic emotions and scattered minds?

It’s easy, really. Before your season officially kicks off, let your players know you want to coach a team that always does its best to Honor The Game. Communicate this approach repeatedly, and consider going over it in detail during a practice or several practices. Remind your kids that Honoring The Game means that everyone on your team will have respect for the ROOTS of the game.

 Rules: We refuse to bend and/or break the rules to win.

  1. Opponents: We value and recognize that a worthy opponent brings out our best, and we take a “fierce yet friendly” attitude into competition.
  2. Officials: We respect officials, even when we disagree with them.
  3. Teammates: We never do anything to embarrass our team (on or off the ice).
  4. Self: We live up to our standards of Honoring The Game – even when others don’t.

Honoring The Game Tools.

Just like anything else in sports – or life – practice and repetition are key when it comes to learning to always Honor The Game and respect its ROOTS. Here are some ideas to help you implement the ROOTS philosophy – with the assistance of both your kids and their Responsible Sports Parents:

  1. Parent Meeting Agenda: A preseason parent meeting is always a wise investment. People tend to live up to expectations if they know what they are. A meeting can help mold the behavior of your athletes’ parents. Follow this general outline for success:
    1. Welcome & Introductions
    2. Your Coaching Philosophy
    3. Goals For The Season (present yours and ask for theirs)
    4. Season Evaluation Introduction
    5. Logistics (practice/games schedules, phone/email lists, etc.)
    6. Asking For Parent Volunteers
    7. Time For Parent Questions
  2. Seize Teachable Moments:  Capitalize on the many instances during your practices and games when lessons about Honoring The Game can be highlighted. These can be either positive or negative moments, such as someone losing graciously (positive) or an athlete taunting an opponent (negative). Engages your players in a discussion about whether the behavior in question Honors The Game.
  3. Drill During Practice: Just as we develop drills for improving physical skills, we must create situations in practice where players learn how to Honor The Game. For example, during a practice match, make a bad call on purpose and see how your players react. If they react in a way that’s consistent with Honoring The Game, praise them. If they don’t, use that moment to discuss how you want them to respond in a game situation (e.g., not letting the questionable call throw them out of their rhythm). You might also consider having your players officiate during practice games to appreciate the difficulty of being an official.

Good luck this season from your friends at Liberty Mutual Insurance and Responsible Sports!