Renowned sports psychologist Dr. Jim Loehr breaks 'character' down into what he calls 'performance character' and 'moral character'. He suggests that sport in of itself does not build character, but that character can be built through sport only with a strong intent to do so, followed by a highly structured plan of implementation. Coaches and parents are critical in this process.
He distinguishes two types of character that can be intentionally built through sport.
- effort, diligence, confidence, attitude, focus, resiliency, hard-work, perseverance, courage, self-discipline, commitment, teamwork
- Respect, just, trustworthy, values based decisions, ethical, integrity, humble, strong moral people
Especially at the top level, the 'seduction' in sport is unbelievable....the temptation to cut corners, cheat, take drugs, etc. The relationship between sports development and character development is an inverse relationship (the longer you stay in it there is more chance of sport having a negative impact on character) but we (particularly coaches and parents) can intentionally use the demands of sport to build strong, healthy, principle centred people.
And, finally, you can 'win' with good character. The two are not mutually exclusive as some would like to say. Building strong performance and moral character helps you to handle better the high demands of performance sport, particularly if you reach the very top.
(Taken from a talk by Dr. Jim Loehr to USTA coaches)