How your child can be compassionate and competitive

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/14/2016

With all the emphasis on hard work, mental toughness, and personal achievement, it’s not very often that we hear compassionate and competitive mentioned in the same sentence when talking about athletes. However, being a caring person doesn’t make you a wimp.

These two traits can and should be nurtured in your athlete, but what does a compassionate competitor look like?

Being compassionate means you pay attention to people.

In youth sports, your child can develop his caring muscles when he treats teammates, opponents, officials, and even spectators with respect. More specifically, how about the janitor that cleans the gym or the mom that works hard in the snack bar?

Help your child learn to appreciate and respect the people who make it possible for him to play sports. Without everyone helping out, there would be no youth sports. Encourage her to be aware of these people and to say a kind word when she has a chance.

Being compassionate means you help others.

No matter how talented your athlete is, don’t let him fall into a ‘prima donna’ mindset. Teach him how to can help others. It may be little things, like cleaning up the team bench after the game or picking up the trash on the team bus. A caring person helps wherever he sees it’s needed, instead of walking by and assuming someone else will do the job.

Being compassionate means you do a careful job, giving your very best effort.

A compassionate athlete will care enough to do the best job he can in the game. Not only for his own satisfaction, but because his teammates and coaches are counting on him. He is a true competitor, giving his best so he won’t let the team down.

Being compassionate means you know when to be gentle.

Is there really such a thing as a gentle athlete? Basically it boils down to knowing how and when to flip the switch. When you have a job to do in the game, whether it’s hitting and tackling in football or getting in someone’s grill in basketball, a caring athlete will do what it takes to get the job done. Then, as soon as the play is over, a compassionate athlete can flip the switch and reach down to help the opponent up or give an opponent a pat on the back for a good play.

A caring athlete can also flip the switch before and after the game, treating opponents with kindness instead of looking at them as an enemy to be annihilated.

A compassionate and a competitive spirit will help your child be a true team player.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.