Bully coaches. These are coaches who scream at, intimidate, harass or scare young athletes—usually in the name of motivating them to perform better.
Read on to learn about how to protect your kids from being hurt by coaches. You’ll also learn what to do if your kids have been harassed, threatened, put down, screamed at or physically harmed by a coach.
“My daughter was bullied relentlessly on her high school gymnastics team by her coach,” says one sports parent. “She was screamed at in front of her entire team after every meet, called names, criticized for everything, including how she talked, how she looked, what she wore. She was hanged in effigy.”
“I want to know how I should handle a coach who teaches in a very negative way,” writes another sports parent. “He puts the children down and scolds them in front of everybody. He calls my son a knucklehead all the time and gives negative comments. There is very little positive. My son is very sensitive to this and wants to quit.”
In some cases, kids quit sports altogether because they’ve been bullied by a coach. Sometimes they don’t explain to their parents why they’re quitting. That’s because they’re embarrassed.
But that’s not the only problem. Kids who are bullied by coaches often feel their confidence sink, worry more, are afraid of making mistakes, perform poorly and experience lower self- esteem.
Often, bullied kids think there’s something wrong with them. That’s one of the reasons they don’t always tell their parents what’s going on. They think it’s their fault that the coach is attacking them.
Here’s the good news: As parents, there is lots you can do. First, you can choose coaches who don’t bully. Do that by checking out a coach before you place your child on a team.
Watch a few practices. Talk to other parents. Does the coach put kids down, yell at them, or give more negative feedback than positive? Do the kids like the coach? If you uncover a bully coach, keep looking for another team.
If your kids are already on a team, watch for signs that they are being bullied. They may feel anxious before practices and games. They may act as if they’re afraid of doing something wrong in front of the coach. They may try to avoid going to practice or games. Or they may say they want to quit altogether. They may tell you outright that they don’t like the coach. Be sure to listen to their concerns.
If the coach is the only game in town, and you decide to keep your kids on the team, you can help your kids use sports psychology strategies to boost their confidence levels.
Help them focus on their game–not on what the coach says to them. Help them “stay in the moment” by creating small, manageable goals that they can focus on.
Want to learn more about bullying in sports? We have two great options for you.
If you join Kids’ Sports Psychology, you’ll get for free our new e-book, “Bully Coaches: Helping Sports Parents Take Action,” as part of your membership.
Along with the e-book, you’ll gain access to our many e-books, articles, audios, videos and Q and A resources—all designed to help you and your kids make the most of youth sports.
You can buy our program, “Helping Young Athletes Stay Confident and Mentally Tough in the Face of Bullies,” which covers all forms of bullying in youth sports.
Here’s what one fan said about our bullying programs:
“I appreciate the advice to parents as to how to help your child become more mentally resilient to bullying in sports. The specific advice and scenarios are extremely helpful for any child on a team and very helpful in guiding parents, coaches and administrators in how to deal with bullying in sports. I cannot thank you enough for your input, and I am so reassured to know that there are people like you who are writing articles and doing interviews on such timely and important matters.”
~ Julie Goot
Help stop bullying and ensure your sports kids make the most of their physical talents, and stay confident and mentally tough!
Patrick Cohn, Ph.D and Lisa Cohn
P.S. Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can download a free version of our new “Bully Coaches” e-book by clicking here:
P.P.S. If you’re more interested in the complete anti-bullying package—which addresses all forms of bullying, how to stop them and how to help kids stay confident when bullied, click here: