Have Coaches Gone Too Far? Eli Herman

Kids enjoy playing competitive youth sports, but now, coach’s discipline may be too much. Athletes all around the world who play different levels of different sports experience some kind of discipline from their coaches.

But first, what is discipline? Discipline is training people to obey rules or correct something, using punishment to eliminate disobedience. According to Amy Morin, there are five different types of discipline, Positive, Gentle, Boundary-based, Behavior Modification, and Emotion Coaching discipline.

Positive Discipline is based on using encouragement and teaching instead of focusing on punishment. It teaches problem solving skills to develop a solution.

Gentle Discipline focuses on preventing problems, and using redirection to steer kids away from bad behavior.

Boundary-based Discipline is based on setting limits and making the rules clear. There will be clear consequences when using the type of discipline.

Behavior Modification focuses on positive and negative consequences. Good behavior results in rewards, and negative behavior results in consequences and loss of privileges.

Finally, Emotion Coaching is a type of discipline that spotlights on teaching kids about feelings. When kids are able to recognize their feelings, they are able to verbalize them, rather than act on them.

Coaches have the power to give discipline, but it is their choice to choose how much they give.


Continuing to play

Coaching has a positive or negative impact on wether the kid want to continue the sport or not. Sports have different levels, but as sports move on to high school, the competition increases.

When there is an increase of competition, coach's discipline will not abate, but get harder and harder because they care about winning. Coaches need to be able to tolerate their emotions under stress and pressure without offloading it onto kids with anger and frustration. Many kids going into high school don't realize the level of discipline until they experience it.

“Going into high school I was a standout athlete with high confidence but after my freshman year I started to lose interest”(Mike Edger).

Youth have been playing sports because they love them, and they play them to have fun. When coaches are mean to their athletes and over discipline them, it makes kids question themselves if they want to play that sport again. Thus, coaches have made many kids quit sports because of their harsh discipline, and kids may never play that sport again.



While coaches have a way to impact someone’s self esteem in a positive way, many coaches do it in a negative way. Coaches are supposed to support and coach their athletes by encouraging them to try and perform their best. Few do this, and the majority of coaches call kids out, or are flat out mean to them.

"But when he gets in my face, calls me out, embarrasses me in front of the team, and has a problem with me every day it makes me question why I still play. I don’t tell anyone how it affects my motivation and confidence"(Edger).

Coaches should not be changing kid's motivation and confidence in a negative way because it could be long term. Kid's who experience harsh discipline may be affected later in life when they have a job interview, an important meeting, or doing well in school. This emotional abuse can hurt or even ruin someone's integrity.


Change of Game

When experiencing discipline or being singled out by a coach after making a mistake, athletes will begin to doubt their ability to preform, and question their role in that sport. After this, athletes will excessively try to fix their mistakes under the influence of fear.

"Often they are afraid of how the coach will react if they make the wrong decision. Fear doesn’t enhance an athlete’s sports experience. And it’s not good motivators–although some coaches try to rely on it. Fear is a mental game killer"(Edger).

Since the athletes are so afraid of what their coach will react to their mistakes, they will focus on the wrong things during the sport because they are so preoccupied with gaining the coach's approval. An example of this is during a basketball game when a kid is deciding to either shoot, pass, or get rid of the ball.

A lack of focus can lead to injuries because if an athlete is not paying attention, they can get hurt, or cause their team to lose.


What do athletes do now?

Athletes need to be able to recognize the situation that they are in, and fix it. It is a major thing for athletes to have awareness for this because it is crucial for them to recognize what is happening, and then problem solve.

Although athletes are going to have their self esteem hurt and they might not want to continue to play the sport again, it is extremely important for coach's to realize when it is enough and stop. By stopping the harsh discipline, many kids will not be harmed mentally long term, and will continue to play the sports that they love.

  • http://www.sportpsychologytoday.com/youth-sports-psychology/how-bully-coaches-affect-athletes-mental-game/
  • http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2010/05/14/the-psychology-and-effects-of- -coaching
  • https://www.verywell.com/types-of-child-discipline-1095064
  • http://timsackett.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/coach-yelling.jpg

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