Sports can make your girl feel special and strong—they can bring her joy, give her a sense of accomplishment and community, and challenge her to test her physical, mental, and emotional limits. Whether celebrating a victory or shouldering a defeat, whether working with a team or competing solo, your girl is developing valuable life skills as she trains her body and her brain.

While there are countless ways your girl can lead with an all-star attitude, taking time to talk about what being a good sport means to her will give her the support she needs to face each new situation like a champ.

To help get those conversations started, here are three aspects of an athlete’s life where being a good sport can make all the difference in the world.

Winning Well

Winning Well

A hard-fought victory is certainly worth celebrating, but with emotions (and adrenalin levels) running high, it can be all too easy to slip into “too proud, too loud” territory. Encourage your girl to make a point of praising other teammates—and competitors—who have played well; share her victories with her coaches and teammates; and consider how she would feel if the the outcome had been different. Remind her that the good she gives to others—the way she elevates those around her—will make her both a leader and a well-respected competitor.

Taking a Loss

There’s no disgrace in losing—it’s a natural part of sports. But how your girl handles herself when she loses is as important as how she wins. The fact is, taking a loss can sting, but placing blame on others or dwelling on negative thoughts about her own or others’ performance does not change the outcome of any given contest. Instead, help her look ahead: each new game, inning, period, match, or competition can be a fresh start. Help her focus on what she can do to turn in her best performance and how she can be genuinely kind and encouraging, even in the face of defeat.

Building Esprit de Corps

Building team spirit

Your girl’s teammates create a vital support network—and studies have shown that in a demanding situation, like when your girl is engaged in tough competition, reaching out to tell a teammate or athletic peer “Good job!” or “You can do this!” can actually help your girl’s own state of mind and performance. Over time, showing this kind of character strength and spirit will help your girl develop a powerful closeness with her teammates that will bind them even closer together—and make working hard toward a shared goal that much better.


Adapted from A Smart Girl’s Guide: Sports & Fitness, by Therese Kauchak Maring.
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