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Author Topic: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive  (Read 412 times)

MU82

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Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« on: November 04, 2021, 01:20:43 PM »
Interesting article with the headline:

Tough love or verbal abuse? For coaches and parents, the new lines are hard to define

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/11/04/tough-coaching/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F3531f0c%2F618404c19d2fda9d41352fc6%2F5f8d147cae7e8a56e5b732a4%2F56%2F71%2F618404c19d2fda9d41352fc6

For those without a subscription, the article talks about how coaches -- especially at the high school level and younger -- have had to change because "today's kids" don't respond as well as yesteryear's kids did to coaches' screaming or to being forced into physical altercations with their teammates.

There are the usual generalizations about "today's kids," and a few of the coaches quoted presented little gray area. It's either be brutally tough or be "soft" on kids, with the latter being seen as failing.

But of course there is a middle ground. A coach can demand discipline without being abusive.

From the article:

Jason Sacks, the chief development officer for the Positive Coaching Alliance, said his nonprofit organization — which addresses toxic coaching at the youth level and has an advisory board that includes Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr and former U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy — is not attempting to remove discipline or standards from coaching. Instead, the organization conducts seminars to educate parents and coaches on how to best reach today’s youth athletes.

“What we’ve seen the last couple of years is, getting in the face of one of your players, grabbing them by the face mask, blowing them up, cursing them out — the research shows kids aren’t reacting to that,” Sacks said. “That’s not how that’s going to motivate them. If anything, it’s shutting them down.”

Athletes, no matter the age, will be motivated by fear, but only temporarily and at a great mental health cost, Dieffenbach, the West Virginia University professor, said. Athletes motivated by positive perspectives, on the other hand, have more positive outcomes on the field and in life afterward.

“That doesn’t mean you’re always soft on athletes and everything is happy feel-good,” Dieffenbach said. “But just like in teaching . . . you set expectations, [and] you help them meet them. And when they’re not met, there have to be consequences for behavior.”


Even at the college level, being excessively verbally abusive is almost surely unnecessary, and often self-defeating. And coaches certainly do not need to get physical with their athletes.

That's doubly true at the high school and junior-high levels. I've heard Little League coaches scream things at their 11-year-olds that made me embarrassed for them.

At the same time, athletes (and their parents) need to accept that discipline is necessary. So there's definitely a fine line.
“A lot of the stuff that we believe in and that I’ve always believed in — it takes time. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not an instant-gratification thing. It’s a drip-by-drip process.”

-- Shaka Smart, in The Athletic, 10/13/21

Jockey

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2021, 02:57:08 PM »
This is always an interesting subject for me.

Personally, I loved a coach who yelled at me and got in my face when I did something wrong. It gave me the satisfaction of knowing that he was watching what I did. I always felt that I "thought" the game better than people I played against. I knew when I did something wrong - whether on the court or the ball diamond - so I expected to get yelled at. So it was never like the coach was yelling just to yell.

But...., I understand that things have changed. My grandson played HS ball last year and it really bothered him if the coach got in his face. Most of the guys were the same - especially the younger guys. They just don't deal with that growing up anymore. We are waaay more gentle now.

As far as putting hands on a player - it should never happen. I never had a coach do that and kids today should not have to put up with it, either.

Among younger kids, a much bigger problem are dad's trying to live through their kids. They can be absolutely verbally abusive to their own kids - many of whom don't even want to play. When I coached youth football, I had more than one confrontation with parents who I thought crossed the line.

Galway Eagle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2021, 03:02:37 PM »
I always responded better to my boxing coaches being crazy intense toward me, my hurling and lacrosse coaches I prefer/preferred a calmer presence with the intensity coming from my teammates.

Honestly a good coach should recognize that each athlete is different and address them as such.
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MuggsyB

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2021, 03:12:57 PM »
I always responded better to my boxing coaches being crazy intense toward me, my hurling and lacrosse coaches I prefer/preferred a calmer presence with the intensity coming from my teammates.

Honestly a good coach should recognize that each athlete is different and address them as such.

There's a bit of WTF when it comes to hurling.....but then again it may be the best sport ever?  Now, if you can box and hurl at a high level not a lot of people are going to mess with you. 

Billy Hoyle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2021, 03:20:33 PM »
This is always an interesting subject for me.

Personally, I loved a coach who yelled at me and got in my face when I did something wrong. It gave me the satisfaction of knowing that he was watching what I did. I always felt that I "thought" the game better than people I played against. I knew when I did something wrong - whether on the court or the ball diamond - so I expected to get yelled at. So it was never like the coach was yelling just to yell.

But...., I understand that things have changed. My grandson played HS ball last year and it really bothered him if the coach got in his face. Most of the guys were the same - especially the younger guys. They just don't deal with that growing up anymore. We are waaay more gentle now.

As far as putting hands on a player - it should never happen. I never had a coach do that and kids today should not have to put up with it, either.

Among younger kids, a much bigger problem are dad's trying to live through their kids. They can be absolutely verbally abusive to their own kids - many of whom don't even want to play. When I coached youth football, I had more than one confrontation with parents who I thought crossed the line.

Define "putting hands on a player." Are you squeezing his arm or shoulder? Pulling him over to there he should be? Shoving him?

There is a fine line, and having been a player and a coach it is important to find it. My 7th grade hoops coach was yeller, we were constantly looking over our shoulders, worried to make a mistake (he had a trademark "bah"). My HS weren't quite that bad but they'd say things that would make us feel embarrassed and try hard not to trigger that again. Yelling or worse (when I was on JV the varsity coach jumped up and smashed his clipboard against the backboard out of anger) usually came due to repeated mistakes.  When I coached it was usually repeated mistakes that got me to really yell at a kid but since it was AAU and the kids were paying to be there I had to know the line.

And please leave OBJ's dad out of the discussion here.  ;D
“Forcing Black Americans to make a decision to take the vaccine or lose their job is "completely unfair...” -Hank Newsome, Black Lives Matter

Galway Eagle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2021, 03:36:47 PM »
There's a bit of WTF when it comes to hurling.....but then again it may be the best sport ever?  Now, if you can box and hurl at a high level not a lot of people are going to mess with you.

Boxing: Yes I could when I was still fighting in the 130s & 140s, got destroyed at middleweight and haven't fought since 2016 due to that.

Hurling: I mean I play and try hard. I'm not terrible and am not a bench player but of the those 3 sports I've taken seriously it's definitely the one im by far the most pedestrian at.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 04:03:12 PM by Galway Eagle »
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Billy Hoyle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2021, 03:44:41 PM »
Boxing: Yes I could when I was still fighting in the 130s & 140s, got destroyed at middleweight and haven't fought since 2016 due to that.

Hurling: I mean I play and try hard. Of the those 3 sports I've taken seriously it's definitely the one im by far the worst at.

I tried hurling, but at 6-4 it was not for me. Gaelic Football I did enjoy playing though.

I'll always remember listening to a Brewers game with Uke and Jim Powell in the 90's. The Crew was losing and Powell started talking about seeing Hurling on TV. Uke responded (paraphrasing since it's been 20+ years), "I used to do that, but my version was drinking a bunch of Irish beer until I would hurl." 
“Forcing Black Americans to make a decision to take the vaccine or lose their job is "completely unfair...” -Hank Newsome, Black Lives Matter

Galway Eagle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2021, 04:10:27 PM »
I tried hurling, but at 6-4 it was not for me. Gaelic Football I did enjoy playing though.

I'll always remember listening to a Brewers game with Uke and Jim Powell in the 90's. The Crew was losing and Powell started talking about seeing Hurling on TV. Uke responded (paraphrasing since it's been 20+ years), "I used to do that, but my version was drinking a bunch of Irish beer until I would hurl."

I've always wanted to play Gaelic football but stick sports come more natural to me than that skill set (soccer, basketball)

Hah classic. I'm imagining the 99% of other people listening being like "wtf are these guys talking about"
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ZiggysFryBoy

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2021, 04:45:24 PM »
My HS baseball coach gave one of my big (D1 defensive end) teammates the old slap on the ass after the pep talk slap on the ass.  My teammate, normally very mild mannered, turned around and said to the coach "if you ever do that again, I'll kick your ass." 

No more ass slaps on that team.

MuggsyB

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2021, 04:56:13 PM »
Boxing: Yes I could when I was still fighting in the 130s & 140s, got destroyed at middleweight and haven't fought since 2016 due to that.

Hurling: I mean I play and try hard. I'm not terrible and am not a bench player but of the those 3 sports I've taken seriously it's definitely the one im by far the most pedestrian at.

I wish I learned hurling because I have those skill sets for the most part.  Plus I think I could annoy people during the course of the game.

MuggsyB

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2021, 04:58:43 PM »
Boxing: Yes I could when I was still fighting in the 130s & 140s, got destroyed at middleweight and haven't fought since 2016 due to that.

Hurling: I mean I play and try hard. I'm not terrible and am not a bench player but of the those 3 sports I've taken seriously it's definitely the one im by far the most pedestrian at.

A world class boxer, even a featherweight, could cause a lot of damage if they are fked with and defending themselves. 

MU82

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2021, 07:18:23 PM »
At the middle-school level, where I have spent several years as a head basketball coach, I am not a screamer. The kids just don't respond especially well to it, and it's not who I want to be anyway. There have been a few times where I raised my voice in a controlled way, and it had a lot of impact because I'm not a screamer ... so if I was raising my voice it must be really important.

When I was an assistant high school coach, the head coach (who I considered an outstanding coach) was intense but usually didn't cross the line. But he did have a few meltdowns -- broke a couple of white boards, and he once broke his hand punching a locker. It was so stupid, childish and unnecessary. And it put him in a cast for 6 weeks.

When I played, I did not like to be screamed at. It was not nearly as motivating as positive reinforcement was. And in one of my jobs, my boss was a screamer, a thrower and just a general a-hole who tried to intimidate people. Reinforced in me that I would never be that way if I was in a position of power.

Just treat people the way you want to be treated. Even young people.
“A lot of the stuff that we believe in and that I’ve always believed in — it takes time. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not an instant-gratification thing. It’s a drip-by-drip process.”

-- Shaka Smart, in The Athletic, 10/13/21

tower912

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2021, 07:48:08 PM »
Participated in coaching 40 youth teams in multiple sports.   Never a screamer.
Luke 6:45   ...A good man produces goodness from the good in his heart; an evil man produces evil out of his store of evil.   Each man speaks from his heart's abundance...

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GOO

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2021, 11:35:53 AM »
I think a lot of parents and coaches have learned some basic psychology, that positive reinforcement gets better results.  This has been known in parenting for 70 years, but just in the last 20 years seems to have become more accepted. 

So, why wouldn't parents and players who know that this method will make for better results and better humans, with fewer issues, not expect the same of coaches?

Galway Eagle

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Re: Fine line between coaching "tough" and being abusive
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2021, 01:57:45 PM »
I think a lot of parents and coaches have learned some basic psychology, that positive reinforcement gets better results.  This has been known in parenting for 70 years, but just in the last 20 years seems to have become more accepted. 

So, why wouldn't parents and players who know that this method will make for better results and better humans, with fewer issues, not expect the same of coaches?

My only argument to this would be sometimes the yelling and screaming puts you into fight or flight mode and for certain sports that "fight" mode is necessary. But that being said some coaches shout and throw things during video, practice, conditioning etc and it's unnecessary in my opinion. Again I can see a time/place but not always
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