High school coaches, I am shaking my head and asking myself, what in the world 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 taught me about setting a goal and PUSHING through adversity to make it happen. Even in his craziness, he was transformational, he lifted us to believe in ourselves. What I hear these days is flat out shameful.
I discussed last year how two different sets of parents shared with me their kid’s 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 have heard recently about high school coaches who play selfish mind games, make 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 especially for young female student-athletes that can cause 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 self-worth.