In this episode of TrueSport Champions, Sally Roberts, the founder and executive director of Wrestle Like a Girl, explains how parents and coaches can encourage self-respect in youth athletes through sport and their own behaviors.
My experience in sport has helped me get a better understanding of self-respect because if you don’t respect yourself enough, or if you don’t have that level of self-respect, you sometimes stop before you have actually finished the task because you don’t know that you’re worthy. And sport has the capacity and the potential to teach everyone what their worth is. In the wrestling room, everyone is valued. In the wrestling room, everyone needs to be there because one person in the wrestling room cannot build a team. So when we all come together and realize that everyone has value, and that self-respect can be beautifully enhanced by participating in sport, that’s the message that we want to be able to send home to our kids.
Coaches and parents are given a phenomenal platform to help the youth, their children, grow because of sport. And when parents and coaches recognize that sport is powerful beyond measure, it has an opportunity to bring people of all walks of life together, then that’s where we’re really going to start to benefit. Recognizing that sport is merely a tool to help achieve that self-actualization. It’s the parents and it’s the coaches that really need to come in and help support in a very positive way. The words that we use, that the words that parents use when speaking to athletes is incredibly important. Instead of hearing a parent say to an athlete, “You should have won that match,” it’s so much more beneficial to say, “I saw how hard you tried. Keep working at it. You’ll do better next time.” Words and the messages, children, they hear that. And that’s going to become embodied in who they are and their belief system.
So we need to recognize as parents, coaches, advocates, athletes, that we all have a role to play, and it’s up to us to decide what impact we want to have, not just on our kids, but on all the teams, on all the sports, and anyone that we interact with on a daily basis.