One can coach without being abusive. Raising one's voice does not
necessarily define abusive. But personal insults do. I would suggest to all
coaches, young and old, focus on the behavior with any constructive criticism
and don't go into the realm of abuse or attacking the personal attributes.
There is a difference in saying "You're an idiot," vs. "That
wasn't a smart play or decision." I'm too am real
sick of college coaches in particular who have gone into outright berating
players during games and in a couple of cases putting their hands on their
players getting physically abusive. I would also ask parents and
even players to give coaches some benefit of the doubt. Sometimes a coach does
say things which are out of character. One must look for a pattern of behavior.
Again, coaches, me included, have said things we often regret. But again look
for a pattern and if a coach does it a lot, be concerned.I also
believe in the five to one ratio as a coach. Say five positive things to every
criticism, even if the criticism is gently stated. People tend to internalize
negative feedback, especially children.
Really good Amy.I played in youth leagues growing up in Utah from
age 4 on, soccer, football, wrestling, swimming, and on. I agree with what
you've said. Coach needs to have command, no doubt. Beyond that, I had a
coach or two that maybe should have lost a license.When you talk
with such an abusive dude, you read between the lines that the this guy thinks
such abuse " leads to raising a thinking child". However, I lost so
many would be team mates. Their parents can't stand it. Kids hate
practice. Mentoring and encouraging goes much further.1) If a kid
is out of control, he/she be sidelined discreetly.2) Practice is the time
condition players; coaches who degrade and snipe in public and during games
should be removed.
Nice job Amy, I think we all should look after the kids, regardless of who is
coaching or the AD and admin who hired and therfore are covering for them...they
must be held accountable! There are many coaches to choose from, many who are
not currently within the education system.. Paraprofessionals I'm speaking
of. I'm not suggesting hiring just any teacher to coach, hold them
accountable,hire quality coaches and moral descent people who know the game..
The education system is horrible when it comes to hiring and retaining
coaches... They cover each other at the expense of the kids! Thanks Amy
Nice thoughtful article. Also solid comment Coach P. I really like the 5 to 1
ratio. There world would be so much better off if we all stuck to that. I do
couples counseling and sadly it seems it's often 5 criticisms to 1
compliment.The sports world needs more John Woodens and fewer Bobby
Knights. Unfortunately I don't think there will ever be another John Wooden
but it would be nice of more coaches tried to emulate him.
Many good points here, especially about getting the facts about the lack of
reaction by the U.
A coach shouldn't be abusive, but coaches of competitive teams can't
be Namby Pamby.
In my personal opinion, there is no place for the "F" word in high
school sports. It should never ever be said under any circumstance. To me, the
"F" word is abusive and should be unacceptable at the high school level.
Problem is, I can tell you of numerous high schools that tolerate it
and worse behavior. So why do we tolerate it and allow our kids to be exposed to
this type of demeaning behavior?
Some of us don't tolerate it at all, but when it's brought up to a
high school principal or administrator, because that coach is usually also a
teacher, they don't like dealing with it. So, many times, it's swept
under the rug, or dealt with "internally". For many years we tried
talking about an assistant coach who would berate the kids, use profanity, and
talk about inappropriate things with the boys, but to no avail. The head coach
(still there somehow) enabled this guy by letting him get away with it for
years. Finally, two seasons ago, it came to a head and the asst. coach lost it
and said too much to the wrong guy. He was "allowed to resign" but
I'm sick at how many boys were berated, verbally abused, and had their
childhood changed forever by someone who should have been dealt with years
Yankee, nice comments, you're right about it being swept under the
carpet... you're also right about they are teachers and they take care of
their own, cover for each other to the point it's criminal. Each school
needs parent advacate committee who hears all complaints first and the coaches
have no idea where they come from, next step is it goes to the admin, then to
the coaches, this eliminates the cover ups... it's all documented and if a
coach keeps getting complaints, everyone knows about it, this committee, the
admis, the AD... no more cover ups. The AD's who do the hiring are the ones
who get the complaints and they cover their boys.. (or Girls).. the admin
sometimes don't get involved. It's a good old boys club gone amuck...
There are a handful of coaches who I've seen can coach without being up in
your face and rude to players. Two of those are basketball coaches in 3A and are
consistantly competitive, i.e. state champoinships etc. (Wiscome from Morgan,
Magnusson from Wasatch to name a few). I've seen more seemingly untalented
teams and players excell under that coaching style than any other. So the
reality is there is no reason that coaches have to exhibit rude, degrading
behavior, there is no place for it. Parents who complain about this
don't really have a leg to stand on though, when they do the exact same
thing from the stands to officials.
Observing the behavior of the fans, coaches and players changed me from a
supporter of athletics to a critic. School athletics are supposed to build
character but so often it does the opposite. To spend so much tax money on a
program that has so little value is wasteful to the extreme. People complain
that the public schools need more money but as long as schools have enough money
for football, they shouldn't be asking for more money for their school
You said it tdwds...While I never condone abusive language or
behavior from coaches, it's funny how some parents feel they can scream
obscenities at officials, cast insults at opposing players, and then claim a
coach is verbally and emotionally abusive because he or she pulled little Johnny
or Suzie from the game for poor play. Everything is abuse these days.Anyone who has been involved in AAU and High School athletics, I mean really
been involved, knows that there are certainly some people out there that
shouldn't be coaching, but that most of the despicable and abusive behavior
comes parents who sadly act the part of their children.
While I would never in a million years defend mistreatment of a young man or
young woman by a coach in any setting, I see other things at work here. We have
a culture of entitlement that began when we started awarding trophies to every
kid who participated in any athletic competition. This has lead to many parents
(and kids) believing that they are entitled to win every time they take the
floor or field. When things don't go their way, the overwhelming instinct
for parents (and kids) is to assume some sort of victimization at the hands of
either officials or coaches. Coaches feel this pressure as well, and may be
driven to desperate measures to satisfy their own unrealistic expectations and
to satisfy involved parents. Parents and coaches simply have to start doing
better in creating the right environment, and having the right expectations for
the experience that their kids are having in sports.
I know of situations right now, this very minute, that are pretty ugly with
coaches demeaning players verbally. But for some strange reason these
individuals are 'protected'. However this new article bringing out the
truths about what happened at the U of U should change that moving forward. I
would urge parents that know of issues to write e-mails and document their
reports, both to the principal and district people in charge. Those principals
that choose to 'cover it all up' can be held liable down the road just
like what is going to happen at the U of U and what happened at Penn State.I know of a case two years ago where a kid took a tape recorder into the
locker room and recorded his coach flying "F-bombs" left and right. He
took it to the district and school, and they did nothing. This coach continues
to coach and his behavior has not changed. This is a case where I think clear
documentation in writing will help others down the road that have those same
While I agree with Amy, I would add this:Our world is overrun with
critics and "experts." If you want the behavior of coaches to improve,
become one. Parents expect EVERYTHING of coaches, and give little or nothing
themselves (Except frequent backbiting and criticism.) Coaches make nothing or
next to nothing in little league and high school, but they sacrifice much.As someone who coached for more than a decade I can tell you the players
who worked hardest and were best behaved had parents who had coached, and the
best parents to work with were parents who were coaches.Finally, the
f-bomb. Don't use it, and ask others not to, but keep it in perspective.
Weigh a coach accidentally occasionally using the f-bomb to the good he or she
does. If the good outweighs the f's, have a quiet conversation with that
coach that begins with, "I appreciate all you do for the kids. Your
sacrifice, caring, dedicating your time and expertise on their behalf. Thank
you. May I recommend you refrain from using that word. It offsets some of the
good you do. Thanks again."
I had a few coaches that pushed us in conditioning. What they did was help us
to be in shape so we could perform in the 4th quarter.I could see
how some may have defined this as abuse, but to me it was just getting the most
out of us.Football is becoming ridiculous because they are taking
out the hitting. Soon it will be ballet.Give me a break. People
just need to stop being so soft these days. If you can't handle a tough
coach then don't play.
Mount Olympus, I guess that all depends on what you consider
'tough'.If you think being 'tough' is yelling at
and demeaning high school kids so that you can 'push them' to their
potential, then I don't think you know what the word means.Not
sure what the point of your post is, because someone who is 'tough'
does not need to yell F-bombs at kids!
Im with mount olympus, Kids and parents are getting soft. Take Bingham for
example, they have a no F-bomb rule. But that doesn't mean that its never
said by anyone. They try hard and as i have ben around the program I have heard
it less there then on any other football team. But thats not saying that
emotions start flying and it is never said. But tough coaching is needed in
sports. that doesn't mean you need to drop that word all the time but some
kids get motivation in different ways. some kids need tough treatment and others
don't. That is what makes a good coach is getting the best out of his
players. Some tough treatment and some need to be brought along slow. but the
ones that need to be brought along slow are usually mentally weak. Ill take the
mentally tough kids all day long.
The English language is diversified enough that profanity can and should be
avoided around kids, But Amy, were I to compile all your posts together it
would seem appropriate to put playground equipment in all school yards, grades 1
through 12, cover everything with 18 inches of padding and put a supervisor at
every station to monitor everyone's behavior.Your point of view is
shared by a lot of people but the "soccer mom" mentality in general
doesn't prepare our kids for the real world.
I played College Football and have coached my kids in baseball, soccer,
football, basketball and I have been very observant of my own coaches as well as
other coaches, parents, fans along the way.We for sure have a
problem with coaches who are abusive and on a power trip. Some parents are just
as big of a problem.There is a big difference in being competitive
(which I love) and being combative! There is just way to much hate out there.
Some parents are yelling at their little kids more than the coach is. It is way
past time to pull back.I love how sports can bring out the best in
people. I love to see a team come together and rally to win a game and overcome
set backs and keep believing. Good coaches are really rare.Everyone
in support of being abusive to toughen these kids up for the "real"
world are buying into the lie that winning is the only thing.Half
the teams in the world at every level (youth, HS, college, pros) lose everytime
a game is played. It is time for everyone to demand better behavior
of EVERYONE involved in sports!
With all the focus on bullying, why are coaches exempt? We've all been
bullied and seen our kids bullied. The worst bullying that I've
experienced or seen my kids experience have been by a coach. Coincidently, our
win loss records proved that those methods were ineffiective. Too bad there are
few Wilbur Braithwaites left in the coaching world.
First, I think in regards to high school coaches you will see far less abusive
behavior than you would from paraprofessionals with certainly some
exceptions.Second, there is no reason to use the "F" word in
any situation as a coach. Again, I won't claim perfection with profanity
of a different kind but I think I never directed it at an athlete in jest and
certainly not in anger. I think having discipline and tough-minded athletes and
teams does not mean one has to be profane. Some coaches I truly admired were Don
Holtry and Roger Dupaix. They had disciplined teams, won championships and both
men refrained from profanity. Third, conditioning is something we
did to get better. It should never be used as punishment. When athletes buy
into the fact that conditioning is met to get them in physical condition and
build mental toughness to have the edge over their opponents, athletes will buy
in. They will stop cutting corners etc. When they see it as a punishment with no
real higher purpose, then running ladders or laps or whatever loses its
effectiveness and athletes will cheat to get out of the work and resent coaches.
I can honestly say that I don't agree with this article. I have lived here
for 7 years now and I have never seen kids so protected by their parents. I
admit there are some bad coaches out there, but lets not confuse abuse with
tough love. I played football in Southern California, and I feel like I had one
of the best football coaches in the area. He was not a saint, He liked to yell,
cuss, and insult but never did I think he was abusive. I can honestly say that
his philosophies helped me to be a better Father, Husband, and Citizen. High
School sports is an extension of the classroom and teaches those things that
kids can't learn in the class room. I'm sure that every soldier that
fought in WW2 is grateful for a coach and pushed them to their limits. All this
article did was fuel a fire that parents are building in the area. This is why
there is so much coaching turnover in this state. Look at lone peak and other
schools, where parents chased out a coach. Toughen Up!
I remember watching Junction Boys, the story of Bear Bryant's first year
year at Texas A & M. He was hard on his players like no other in any era.
A lot of the players quit, one nearly died. A father, who was a World War II
vet, asked him what he was doing. Bryant said "football is war." I
loved what the father said back and it was something like this. "I've
been in war, football isn't war." It even made the legendary Bryant
take a pause about what he was demanding...
Why stop at sports? I also feel that in Marine Corps boot camp (where--lets face
it, they are only about a year to a year and a half older than the kids we are
talking about)--the Drill Instructors are way too mean and demeaning. Raise your
voice if necessary, but raise it with praise and chocolate kisses if the recruit
does well. Raise it with a hearty huzzah and popcicles, if they make their bunks
correctly and with promises of orange slices and juice boxes if rifles are kept
neat and tidy. Prison camps will be much easier to face if the field marine can
say, "Staff Sergeant Hebrink tore me down to a quivering mass in the first
few days, but then he built me up with 5 compliments for every negative remark.
He was more than a boot camp instructor--he was a friend."---In all
seriousness, I would be willing to bet that for every coach who "crosses the
line" there are about 250 who are loud, passionate, tough and yes--sometimes
in their players faces--and who do NOTHING but make kids better and stronger
xert- Yes, but that ONE coach as you say, is the one this story is talking
about. No doubt that the vast majority of coaches do good with the youth.
However, it's that one guy or lady who crosses the line into verbal abuse
that muddy the waters. This story isn't about parents who are over
protective, it's about coaches who either physically or verbally abuse the
student/youth that they are in charge of. If you use the power that comes with
coaching as good, then you end up like the guys you talk about, however, if you
use it incorrectly you risk damaging a young persons mind, or self image. That
is what is intolerable. No doubt that youth today are softer than 20-30 years
ago, and much of that comes from helicopter parents. That is why coaches are so
important today in my opinion, that is why we can't tolerate the ones who
aren't there for the right reasons, or aren't in good moral standing.
I think athletes being softer is a myth. I look at Lone Peak's basketball
players and they play as hard as anyone past or present. They worked as hard at
their games as anyone past or present, probably more and harder. They play the
game as disciplined as they need to get the job done, past or present. But
their coach follows the John Wooden model vs. the Bobby Knight model. Lewis
doesn't physically or verbally abuse but challenges his players to give
their best. I think many players often want to know the
"why" in what they are doing. Some call this being soft, I view it as
part of the journey to truly learn the game. I've coached a
whole generation and was a decent athlete myself back in the day. I really
don't see athletes being any "softer" now than in the days past.
They will work as hard and have faith in their coaches as much now as back then
if motivated properly. Parents are probably a different matter but back in the
day you still had helicopter parents and parents who tried to use their riches
to influence coaches decisions.
Todays athletes are bigger, faster, stronger no doubt. Benefit of supplements
and better access to proper training for sure. Here is a quote from Rick Wolff
from Ask Coach Wolff-However, I do think a case can made that
perhaps kids today, in general, don’t cope as well with adversity as
athletes of a generation ago. This theory was supported by a recent survey done
of HS football coaches in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Overwhelmingly, the coaches reported that kids are too often shielded by their
hovering parents, and when it comes to adversity, kids today too often fall back
on Mom and Dad when the coach starts to lean on the kids to work harder or
practice harder.Myth? I think not.
Being an out of stater, and person who had an abusive head coach I can see both
sides. At the same time. I have played a lot of basketball in my life. I know
that this state is very conservative and is soft in the sense that kids are
sheltered from what reality is. I know for a fact that a lot has to do with the
search for perfection in many ways. Coaches want perfection but in effort in
most cases. But its all about wins and losses. Not value and principle. We have
lost life lessons because we have to win to survive. The game is so wrong now.
That's why coaches are getting fired. Parents take swearing and make it
war against the coach. I'm not saying being abusive is OK, I'm saying
that picking out a coaches imperfection is wrong and holds no value. We
don't hold players imperfections against them, but we try to teach and
reinforce them so they don't occur again. The game has changed and coaches
need to adjust to it as well. Holding kids accountable is none existent. The
entire state is suffering from this