Kids Sports News Network

Anger Management

An ongoing series on how to handle your child's out of control coach.

Anger Management

While the majority of coaches in youth sports have a healthy and encouraging attitude towards the young athletes in their charge, there is an increasing number of youth sports coaches who have the mentality that winning is everything, that the victory is more important than the emotional and physical welfare of the team. If you are a parent, ask yourself: “Should I be worried about the type of coaching my child is receiving?” They may be playing on a winning team, but at what cost?

A good youth sports coach will develop a competitive spirit amongst the team, while encouraging each team member to develop to the best of their abilities. But some coaches are prone to picking only the most skillful players for the team, hoping to increase the chance of victory. Having a “win at all cost” philosophy prevents less skilled players from developing to their fullest potential.

Another trait of bad coaching is picking “favorites” amongst team members. It may be the coach’s own child, or the team’s best players, but it does not make for a great team environment. It is not good when one player, or group of players, is receiving all the praise and the other members of the team are frequently reminded that they don’t measure up on the field or the court. All members of a squad or team should be treated the same, without exception.

I know of a local martial arts academy where the instructor had a small group of students, including his own son, who would regularly compete in Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments. Sparring during the class was normally light and well controlled. But in preparation for tournaments, students who were competing were urged to “go all out” during sparring sessions with other students. This resulted in a number of injuries, with one student receiving a severe break to his arm and subsequently quitting the sport.

Success at motivating a team when things are rough is a mark of a great sports coach. You can  get the best out of a team by treating them with respect and encouragement. A sports coach should be seen as a role model, someone to look up to.

But some coaches feel the need to manage a team in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Abuse does not yield motivation. Some coaches will add insult to injury by singling out individual players with harsh criticism and abuse. Targeting individual players can have a negative effect on a young athlete’s self esteem, leaving them feeling ostracized from the rest of the team. A good sports coach will celebrate individual players’ strengths and will coach them to improve on their weaknesses.

Bad coaching is not much different than bullying. Unfortunately, many children will not speak out against an out-of-control coach for fear of being dropped from the team. Parents frequently witness inappropriate coaching behavior, but will look the other way, especially if the coach has a reputation for producing winning teams.

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Author: Rick Bouch

Rick Bouch is a former college and professional football player and former sports journalist for several publications.  He currently is a freelance sports writer covering national sports news.

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