When you ask a lot of people the most important things to teach an athlete, you are likely going to get answers relating to their physical performance, their health, or even their mental performance on the field or court. However, you won’t often hear about the importance of ensuring that athletes develop humility. People value humility, but they don’t often teach it. This is a mistake. Let’s look at some of the ways that humility can be taught to the youth.
Teaching humility is not easy because it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. It can be hard for people, particularly young athletes, to accept praise with humility. The first step in this process is to teach gratitude.
When people learn to take time to think about all of the things that they have to be thankful for, their minds can start recognizing the good in different situations. It can help them to see the forest for the trees. They learn to be thankful during and after their training sessions, and after competition whether they win or lose.
Nest, you need to teach the kids how to pass along the praise. Yes, it’s great when they get praised. They feel good. However, you want to teach them not to hold onto it just for themselves. They need to pass it on to someone else—teammates, friends, schoolmates, parents, competitors, etc.
Teaching someone to be a good and gracious loser, and to be a gracious winner, will help to teach humility, as well. Coaches and parents that start to see humility slip will want to focus more on this aspect of the training. It’s easy for young athletes, particularly those who are talented, to develop an ego that will not serve them well. It will eventually tear them down once they meet someone who is better than them.
Humble athletes tend to be accepted into the community/team more readily. The attitude makes it easier to find supporters who will root for the athlete on and off the field, and it creates young role models.
When an athlete is humble, regardless of their age or skill level, it’s also easier for them to take advice and grow. This allows them to develop their skills further both on and off the field.