Where are the High School Transformational Coaches?

Blog: March 16, 2018

High school softball coaches I am shaking my head and asking myself, what in the hell is wrong with you?  Aren’t you guys part of the educational experience of the student-athlete?  Aren’t you guys supposed to create a healthy and safe (mental, physical, spiritual, emotional) environment that is an extension of the classroom?

Of course, my questions do not fit all high school coaches, but for those, it does fit, shame on you!

Last year I wrote about how in 1981 I was coached by a wildly, positive, crazy coach who really taught me about setting a goal and PUSHING thru adversity to make it happen.  Even in his craziness, he was transformational, he lifted us up to believe in ourselves.  What I have heard just this week is flat out awful.

I discussed last year how two different sets of parents shared with me their kids experience under the current coaches they play for.  One was a 10U development program where the coach was demeaning, degrading and just overall negative in how he makes the girls feel.  The other was a 12U coach who plays weird mind games with the best player on the team all in an “effort to push her to be good”.

Both pale in comparison to some of the stuff I heard this week about high school coaches who play mind game selfish mind games, threats to get the kid to do what they want even if the coach knows it is not right.

Transactional coach’s selfish pursuit of wins and lack of administrative oversight is a dangerous recipe for young female student-athletes that causes long-term damage to their self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. All lead to shame and self-harm at best and deadly results at worst.

I have said it many times and I will reiterate it here again.  Parents should interview their child’s youth coach like they would their pet sitter, but principals and athletic directors should be asking these questions as well. These 4 questions are what a true “Transformational” coach would be excited to answer.  1. Why do you coach?  2. Why do you coach the way, you coach? 3. What does it feel like to be coached by you? 4. How does the coach define success?  The only way to coach young people is to seek to transform their sense of their own worth.

Transformational coaches are other-centered.  They use their power and platform to nurture and transform players.  Therefore, a youth player should never have to worry about the “mood” of the coach.  Parents when your child comes home from a practice or game and say, “my coach was in a bad mood”, where was the other-centered behavior?

Parents should not let their kids play for Transactional coaches who operate on a quid pro quo basis to incentivize their players to perform better.  Especially the coaches who say, “I am only hard on her to get the most out of her”, BS.  That is not what Transformational coaching is about.

As I have said many times, outside of parenting there might not be a better platform than coaching to transform boys and girls into healthy thriving men and women.

Transformational coaches believe student-athletes can grow and flourish in sports in a way that is more liberating and instructive than can be achieved through almost any other activity.  Therefore, good coaches, Transformational coaches are not just out to win a game or to be able to say my coaching is the reason why “she” is as good as she is.

Parents here is the bottom line. Stop worrying that your kid may lose time, or not play as much.  The long-term effect on women student-athletes will leave scars by transactional coaches for the rest of the athlete’s life leaving a wounded person whose self-esteem is fragile if not broken.