3.4.1. Conflict prevention

It is evident that sport and physical activity can teach numerous positive attributes to participants, such as confidence, achievement, goal setting, and sportsmanship. But while they can promote teamwork and cooperation, there is still understandable concern that sport could potentially perpetuate disputes and conflicts because of its competitiveness. But using these challenges actually offers the coach a supportive platform for teaching participants how to deal with different forms of conflict.

For example, coaches can use the situations that emerge when players become frustrated or angry to explain the reasons why these emotions come up, and then explore how to change perspectives and empathize with team members rather than being aggressive. Coaches should take the opportunity to teach how empathy and compassion lead to greater effectiveness for teams in achieving goals and also winning games.

In practice consider:

  • having participants play in integrated teams
  • making them rethink the way they react and treat others
  • building confidence in their abilities
  • helping to think objectively and not subjectively; and
  • supporting participants to divert their time, energy, and abilities in a constructive way.

It can also be helpful to show how these problems and solutions are analogous to larger societal issues and open ways to teach peace, diplomacy, community development, and conflict resolution.

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