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How Do We Stop Coaches from Berating Our Kids?

July 1, 2014    9831 Views

By Sara Noon | @uslacrosse

How Do We Stop Coaches from Berating our Kids?

John Strohsacker

Like most lacrosse parents at this time of the year, ‘tis the tournament season. Whether it is the end of the spring season event or the start of the summer tournament season, they are everywhere.

I, like many of you, was field-hopping at my daughter’s tournament on a recent weekend. As I was walking back to my car, I witnessed a coach berating (with arms flailing) a 13-year-old girl. I was appalled. He was screaming at her, asking, “Why did you do this instead of doing that?”

It stopped me dead in my tracks and I just stared. I wanted to go up and put myself in between them and go toe-to-toe with the coach, but it wasn’t my child or her team. What should I have done?

Filled with frustration I sought refuge in and words of wisdom from my favorite book, “Whose Game Is It Anyway?” by Richard Ginsburg (Ph.D.) and Stephen Durant (Ed.D.).

In the book, it reads, “Abusive coaches can turn kids off from sports, force kids into dangerous situations that can cause injury, or psychologically damage kids through manipulation.”

All I could think of is if my daughter was that girl and I witnessed that behavior from her coach I would pull her from the team. More than likely, she would not want to continue with the sport due to the abusive behavior, and what a sad loss that would be at such a young age.

According to the book, as parents we need to be engaged and monitor our child’s sport experience. First, “…we need to take the time to learn about the sports programs before we enroll our children. As the coach is the central figure in our children’s sports environment, spending time to talk to other parents about the coaches and their team philosophies and practices can often help us choose the best environment for our kids and may prevent of these types of conflicts from happening.”

As our child goes through their sports season, we need to then ask, “Are our children having fun? Are they building healthy relationships with peers? Are they sleeping and eating well? Are they maintaining decent academic standings? Are they having a variety of experiences in their lives?”

So what would you have done if you witnessed this behavior of a coach reaming your child out? What should I have done?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Sara Noon is the senior director of membership and regional development at US Lacrosse.

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