Coaches Bullying their Athletes
by celine.m on February 7, 2015 - 3:33pm
Coaches are extremely influential individuals in a child’s life when they are participating in a sport or any physical activity. Some coaches have a positive effect on children while others can negatively impact their mental health and overall academic and athletic performances. It is hard to imagine and admit that many coaches have demonstrated mental abuse on such athletes. This can be considered as bullying. According to JustPlay, a national sport research firm that logs critical incidents in youth sports leagues, 40% of youth hockey, baseball and football games either contain direct or indirect abuse. When speaking about direct abuse this implies hitting, demoralizing the athletes or considering violent behavior in order to win a game. Indirect abuse is when a coach harasses the officials, spectators and opposing players.
Being bullied by coaches is a lot more present than we would think which is quite surprising. In a study conducted in the United Kingdom, out of six thousand athletes, 75% of them confirmed that they have been physiologically damaged and one third said there coach was the one to blame for their distress. What the coaches need to understand is that a line needs to be drawn between being tough and being abusive. I think that it’s alright for coaches to push their athletes to become the best they can be, but when bullying is involved, that's when it needs to stop.
I can completely relate to this problem since I have been practicing sports for a very long time. What I find quite surprising is the fact that we, as athletes, don’t want to report the problem because we think that this behavior is normal and that all the coaches are conducting in the same way. This is the way many of my teammates felt about our situation. However when I decided to quit and continue my athletic career with another coach, I realized that what my coach was doing was not right. Getting the view from another coaches perspective made me realize that some coaches really can have a positive influence on you and make you a better athlete overall.
Being bullied by a coach demoralizes your well-being. You feel like you’re not good enough, that your coach does not like you and in the long run that your not good at anything. Being told that you ‘’suck’’ at every practice can really affect your emotional being and can lead to an athletes burn out. When it reaches the stage where your child understands that his coaches’ behaviour is not normal, something needs to be done or reported. However, when we decided to report a complaint no measures were taking to suspend my coach or even discuss with him.
This leads me to say that federations in any sport need to take this matter a little more seriously. This is not a small problem that can be resolved in a day or even left on the side because it is not important enough. These behaviours negatively effect children’s lives and who knows how long it might take for them to feel good about themselves again.