I got a recent email that upset me to read that a person had gone through the ranks of a sport (junior league, elementary school, middle school and high school) and had been exposed to abusive and foul mouthed coaches throughout their season. Sure, I had heard of these sorts of incidences, but it really didn’t hit home until I read this email. What would make a coach, a person that is suppose to a role model for young people, to act with such bad behavior? It’s beyond my thinking to try to get into a coaches mind, but I do know the effects this can have on the students that are on the receiving end of it. I tried to think that maybe this was a unique situation, but then I got to thinking, what if it were not? So, I’m sharing this story.
With coaching kids comes major responsibility; lots of responsibility. You as a coach are in a position where young students look up to you and are depending on you to lead them to learn and grow; not only as athletes, but as good, all around individuals. I talk to a lot of coaches, and can say that the majority of the coaches I talk to are good mentors. They aren’t in it for the money or for any self serving reasons. They do it because they love working with the students, they love the sport of cheerleading, and above all, they love that they can coach these young athletes life lessons. They are helping the future of the world, even if it is one cheerleader or squad at a time. But sad to say, they aren’t the ones that get the glory. It’s the coaches that abuse their power or their position that we read about in the news. They are the ones that give coaches, and cheerleading in particular, a bad reputation.
It’s true what they say about “one bad apple can spoil the whole batch” and in coaching it’s the same. If you’re a coach or are considering coaching as a career, think about the following:
Young people learn by example. They are noticing you, your behavior and how you manage with things. They will imitate you and will follow your lead.
If what you have to say is so important, then you shouldn’t have to yell, holler or spice it up with bad words. Let it stand on its own and give value to the message, not the delivery of the message.
You are a Coach and a role model. Behave like one at all times.
You are a person of authority and with that comes the responsibility that what you do is right.
In your field you fill many roles i.e. friend, parent figure, coach, teacher and so on. Take care of these relationships, don’t destroy them.
Young people are still growing not only physically, but emotionally too. What you say or do, can have long lasting effects on them in the future. Make sure those effects are positive ones and not negative.
To get respect, you have to earn it.
Furthermore, you may be asking what if you encounter an abusive coach, what should you do? Do these tips:
If you’re an adult, then you have a right to say something. Either to the person or to their supervisor.
If you’re a student, you should tell a parent, teacher, or someone in a position of authority.
Don’t mix up criticism with abuse. Coaches are there to help you and help you learn to do things the right way. There are going to be times when they have to criticize your skills. Know the difference.
Coaching is an great career, take pride in your role as a coach and absoulutely never do or say anything that will hurt or diminish that role. Three cheers for coaches!