In the world of youth sports, there is a fine line that exists between effective coaching and bullying. To determine the difference between coaching and bullying, let’s break down what defines good and what constitutes excessive coaching.
What is Good Coaching?
A good coach understands the physical limitations of the kids he or she is coaching. They will work to help them develop skills and improve upon what they already can do. However, they will not physically pull or push on the child, belittle them or yell at them. A good coach can get a child to willingly do his or her best without the threat of violence. Moreover, a good coach will build up the child resulting in a higher confidence level and encouraging growth of character.
What is a Bully Coach?
When a coach bullies, they essentially act just like a school yard bully only in a different setting. If the child is a boy, the coach may insinuate that the child is a sissy. Coaches sometimes call the child names, put down their intelligence or physical abilities or may blame a loss on a certain child. In extreme cases, bully coaches actually pull or push on young athletes.
What Are the Long-term Effects of Bullying?
A 2003 study performed by Dr. Stephen Joseph of the University of Warwick discovered that verbal abuse, which is the type of abuse typically found in coaching, can have an even greater impact on the victim than a physical attack. In fact, instead of helping children to toughen up, verbal abuse causes post-traumatic stress disorder is 33 percent of abused children.
Knowing this data on bullying only makes preventing coaches from bullying that much more important. After all, who wants their child permanently and negatively affected by some little league coach? Therefore, defining what constitutes good coaching and what borders on bullying is a must for all youth sports leagues.
What Can Youth Sports’ Leagues Do?
Another way to discover possible bully coaches is by taking a survey of parents after the season is over. If one coach gets more than one or two complaints pertaining to bullying or aggressive coaching, this is a red flag for the league indicating a possible bully coach.
What Are a Parent’s Legal Options?
If a child becomes injured due to a coach’s behavior, the family can likely get compensation through a lawsuit. Even if a coach does not directly and intentionally hurt a child, injury caused by carelessness is still an offense in many states.
Youth sports are often a positive experience for children. After all, it offers kids the opportunity to remain active, meet new friends, increase their skill set in regards to sports and build their self-confidence. However, when coaches begin to bully the youth athletes under their tutelage, these benefits are lost and negative consequences begin to amass. Therefore, it is up to each parent and each youth sport’s league to work together to keep kids safe while playing and prevent coaches from crossing the line into bullying.
Have you ever been a coach?