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Winning and losing

loser; winner; games; sportsmanship; feelings; self; esteem; respect; team; games; supporter; player; skills;


winners podiumLife is competitive – some kids can do something faster or better than other kids can. This might not seem fair, but all people are different and this means that how well you can do something is different to other kids.

Sometimes a kid might win a race or do really well in a spelling test because he has worked hard, practised a lot, and sometimes he may just be lucky (he is taller than others in his class, or he is just naturally able to learn how to spell easily). His team may have trained a lot together – or maybe they have not bothered to train at all, or maybe they could not train together because they did not have a ground to play on, or a coach.

choose to be a good loserThis means there are 'winners' and 'losers', and lots of people in-between.

People also compete against themselves. They try to do better in the spelling test than they did last time, or to do their 'personal best' time in a race.

You can choose to be a good winner and an even better loser whether you are competing against others or against yourself.

Being a 'good' winner

No-one likes a 'show off'.
No-one likes someone who takes all the credit for the efforts of a team.
respect othersNo-one likes people who put others down to make themselves look good.

To be a good winner you need to:

  • be modest
  • say thank you to compliments
  • acknowledge the efforts of those who helped you
  • keep trying to improve your skills
  • aim for the next step up in whatever you are doing well.

To be a good winner you have to learn and practise the skills which make you a winner, but other skills need to be developed too.

How to be a great team player

encourage your team mates with positive commentsThings to do:

  • Learn the rules of the game.
  • Treat other players with respect.
  • Treat umpires, coaches and referees with respect. Don't argue with their decisions.
  • Don't try to be the 'star' even if you are the most skilful player on the field - you are part of a team.
  • Be polite and don't put down others.
  • Listen and learn from coaches. They can see the whole game not just your part in it. 
  • Don't make excuses if you make a bad move - learn from your mistake.
  • Take your turn on the bench without grumbling.
  • Play fair, don't cheat.
  • Encourage your team mates with positive comments - put downs are not going to help them.
  • Always thank the opposition and officials after the game - whether you have won or lost.

Being an even better 'loser'

Of course it's disappointing to lose, especially if it was a close run result.  But 'You win some – you lose some!'

always thank the oppositionIf you lose the game then it is even more important that you have used all those skills we just talked about.

Behaving badly, having a temper tantrum, name calling and going on about things being 'unfair' won't change the final result and will make you look like a really bad sport.

And no-one likes bad sports either. 

  • Be gracious.
  • Congratulate the other team.
  • Keep any negative comments to yourself - at least until you are away from the game.
    congratulate the other team

(It's ok to let off a bit of steam to your best friend and parents later.)

And if you didn't do very well in a test, try harder to learn for the next one. Beating your own score makes you a winner too.

Being a good team supporter

It doesn't matter whether you are in the team or on the bench or just a supporter in the crowd you can still get really involved in a game.

If you want to be a good supporter there are some things you can do which would help you and your team.

  • Learn the rules of the game and then you will have a better understanding of what's happening.
  • Clap or cheer good play - even if it's the 'other side'? (Well okay just clap quietly if it's the opposition but you can appreciate skill even if it's from the 'enemy' can't you?)
  • No put downs, especially of your own players - you need to boost them not blast them - and they will already know if they have made a bad move!
  • Be polite to others around you at the game, especially if there is a large crowd - you don't want to be asked to leave do you?
  • TURN UP!  Whether your team is on a winning or losing streak they still need your support. Having a positive crowd barracking for the team helps the players to try hard and keep going.

Kids say

  • "If you are losing in a game and you are really angry focus your anger on getting the ball. Never take out your anger on another player." Jack
  • practising makes you better"If I get a move wrong at dancing my teacher tells me how to improve it. I don't fight or argue with her." Zoe
  • "When I'm doing pointe for ballet I don't put myself down if I mess up. I only started this year and if I persist I will do better." Pia
  • "Practising makes you better. I swim three times a week." Mitch
  • "Winning is great but if you lose you can learn from your mistakes and work to improve." Adam
  • "If you lose it's not the end of the world. At least you played the game." Clancy
  • "Congratulate your opponent whether you win or lose." Hugo
  • "When I lose I don't complain. I make sure that I understand why I came last." Shayla
  •  "I love winning but when I do lose I take it on the chin and keep my head high, knowing I tried my hardest." Morgan
  • "If you lose you can still feel good about yourself and tell yourself, 'Better luck next time'." Maya
  • 'Everyone makes mistakes or has a 'bad day' sometimes. Joining in again and trying hard helps you to win friends and respect from others.'
    I know I tried my hardest

Dr Kim says 

Dr KimSchool, local or professional teams all need players and supporters.

Some of you may play for your school or club and then support a professional team.

As a player you know how much positive support can lift your game. As a supporter you know how good it is to be in a crowd cheering your team on.

Whatever your role is you can learn a lot from team games. .

In your life there will be times when you succeed and other times when you don't do so well. Do you know the old saying - "You've got to be in it to win it"? Try hard at whatever you do, practise skills, learn the rules and be a gracious winner or loser whatever you do.

Sometimes someone may cheat to be able to win a game, competition or to get good marks. Is he or she really a 'winner'? No!

Our topics on Cheating at school  and 'Cheating at sport and games' will tell you more about this.

be a gracious winner or loser whatever you do

Sometimes we all have 'off' days or disappointments. Our topic Resilience - don't let things get you down may help you to 'get up and go' again. 


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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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