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Why Give Athletic Awards as a Coach?

While emerging victorious from the court or field is certainly satisfying on its own, giving out athletic awards as part of your season can make all of that hard work and effort feel even more worthwhile. As a coach, handing out the right awards can help make everyone feel positive and motivated. In today’s blog post, we’re breaking down five common athletic awards to consider handing out each season.

At Total Recognition, we’re passionate about acknowledging teamwork and individual efforts in every pursuit. From athletic competitions and academic endeavors to professional projects and more, we have engraved awards, trophies, plaques, and other recognition products for every occasion. Shop our selection online, and be sure to add some athletic awards to your cart after you’ve finished reading this post!

Athletic Award Ideas for Sports Teams

Participation Awards

Participation awards are a somewhat controversial form of recognition. Some believe that handing out awards to participants simply for being a part of the team or project removes the incentive to try, because everyone will receive the same recognition regardless of effort. Others see participation trophies and awards as a valid method of showing appreciation for all participants, whose collective efforts are responsible for the victory. You can learn more about whether to bestow participation trophies and awards in this blog post.

For sports teams or group projects made up of young children, participation trophies and awards can be a suitable form of recognition. In these early stages, children are just beginning to grasp the concepts of teamwork and competition, and participation awards can help show them that just learning these principles is an achievement, regardless of athletic performance. Ribbons and medals can work well for individual participation awards, while a metal cup trophy with a team name engraving can be great for whole-team recognition.

MVP Awards

Recognizing your team’s most valuable player (MVP) is an excellent way to acknowledge effort, leadership, attitude, and performance in a single package. The MVP can be designated by the coach, but a potentially more meaningful method of determining the MVP is through team voting. To avoid the award becoming a popularity contest, coaches can ask players to nominate individuals based on individual MVP attributes. If all goes smoothly, you’ll be left with one individual who holds a nomination for the majority of the attributes. Personalized trophies are ideal for this special award.

Before bestowing an MVP athletic award, it’s important to be sure that it is the right type of award for your team. MVP awards may not be suitable for sports teams made up of young children who are still learning how to evaluate others based on positive attributes. If you would like to integrate an MVP-style award for this age group, consider using a more child-friendly title, such as the “Superstar Award” or “Terrific Teammate Trophy.”

Sportsmanship Awards

Incorporating a sportsmanship award is an excellent way to recognize more than physical talent. Sportsmanship is all about respect, fairness, and having a good attitude, regardless of a game’s outcome. Players who are most deserving of a sportsmanship award are typically easy to spot, and you may already have a person in mind. Perhaps they are the one who helped another player get back up, even if it meant sacrificing their own “superstar” moment, or maybe they’re the one who always encourages everyone to do their best, even when it seems impossible to win. Including a sportsmanship award in your lineup of recognition items can help every member of your team realize the personal and emotional attributes of a great athlete.

Most Improved Player Awards

If you’ve had the opportunity of coaching a player whose abilities drastically improved over the course of the season, then you likely understand the importance of recognizing such a transformation. The most improved player award is incredibly meaningful to its recipients, as it shows them that their progress matters, even if they were not a top performer. Encouraging athletes to improve relative to their current abilities is a crucial aspect of creating a better team, and having an award to acknowledge this improvement acts as an incentive for even the least experienced players.

Sport-Specific Awards

Use sports-specific awards that recognize players who truly grasp the techniques of their athletic pursuit. Examples may include awarding players who are particularly talented in one position (such as a midfielder in soccer or a setter in volleyball), in strategizing team plays, or in being vocal and communicative on the field or court. Get creative with awards that acknowledge special skills, such as consistently making free throws or sending high-speed spikes over the net. This is also an opportunity to shine the spotlight on attributes like attitude, effort, and improvement in the context of the specific sport. Perhaps someone has a most-improved serve or pass, or struggled to memorize plays but is now confident in each one. Whatever the accomplishment may be, it’s important to acknowledge it.

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Bonus: Coach Appreciation Awards

Behind every successful team is a great coach! If you’re a parent, assistant coach, or athletic staff member, be sure to include a special award for the team coach in addition to the awards for athletes — they’re likely not going to order one for themselves. If you’re a coach reading this, don’t forget to recognize all of the supporters mentioned above. Perhaps there is a parent or staff member who always shows up when you need them and is a crucial part of the team, even if they never touch the field. Give everyone the acknowledgement they deserve this season!

Order Athletic Awards Online from Total Recognition

Ready to start implementing athletic awards this season? Shop the Total Recognition online store for hundreds of options, from engraved awards and personalized trophies to ribbons and medals. We can also create personalized paper certificates, which make great coach, parent, and staff appreciation awards. Need competition trophies for your school? We’ve got a variety of sizes and styles to suit every sport and age group. Start browsing now, and feel free to contact us with any questions!

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