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Who is a Sports Bully – Coaches

Who is a Sports Bully – Coaches

Bullying behaviour is an aggressive behaviour that occurs repeatedly over time in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, verbal abuse, social manipulation and attacks on property. Physical violence is not usually a component of a coaching relationship. Your coach can also be physically violent toward your child or another athlete.

Most coaches are volunteers and have never been trained to coach properly. Without proper training we find that some sport coaches hurt more of our child athletes more than helping them. Their idea of motivating our young athletes to better themselves is seen through behaviours that threat, intimidation, fear, guilt, shame, and name-calling to push athletes to excel. These bullying tactics lead our children to burnout, rebellion and a hatred of a once-loved sport.

Coaches who use such negative feedback are generally focused too much on one thing: winning the game or competition. They give kids the message that winning is everything. That makes kids focus too much on outcomes—such as the score or win. It can prevent them from reaping the social and emotional benefits of taking part in sports. If the coach allows the bullying to go unchecked, the player being bullied may end up deciding that quitting the team is the only way to get the abuse to stop.

Focusing too much on the score or win also can hurt kids’ performance. They often develop fear of failure. That means they stop taking risks and they play too tentatively. That’s because they’re afraid the coach will yell at them. Playing only for the “win at all costs” does cost children, their dignity as a player and unfortunately can lead to them becoming victims of bullies. This is how coaches abuse their position and hurt your children when all they want to do is look like the winning coach at all costs:

  • A coach will pick a select few to play in the game (called the players) while the rest of the team site on the bench
  • These children sit on the bench anxiously waiting their turn, which usually never comes
  • They sit waiting for their name to be called while their self-esteem is chiseled away be each ticking second of the clock
  • It is humiliating to these children, to sit among their peers and be told, by the actions of the coach, that they are not good enough to be put in the game
  • The “players” on the other hand are witnesses to the actions of the coaches and through these actions develop an inflated ego
  • They start to feel superior and above the non-playing members of the team
  • The coach has created a divided team and has divided children socially to create his own victims and villains

Watch for signs that your sports kids are being bullied.

  • Focused too much on trying to impress the coach
  • They may be afraid of the coach
  • They may be afraid of going to practice
  • They may say they want to quit the team
  • They are always keeping the bench warm

Tactics of coach bullying – Abusive messages are not just conveyed merely with the spoken word; they are conveyed by tone of voice, body language, facial expression and withdrawal of physical or emotional support. Coaches bully and abuse their athletes by making them feel:

  • Afraid of them
  • Despised, inadequate, worthless or embarrassed
  • Valued only as a result of their athletic performance
  • Verbally abusive
  • Yelling at
  • Mouth off against opposing teams
  • Old time mentally, tired and unaccepted techniques and behaviours
  • We’ve always done things like this and we’re not going to change now.
  • I’m in charge and what I say goes.
  • Run the team with ‘ruthless’ efficiency


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