hard coachingYelling. Criticizing. Name calling. Threatening. Where does “hard coaching” and “tough love” end and verbal abuse begin?

Watch and see how Derek Francis from FOX 17 responds to my coaching of his newscasting skills!

The lesson here is while “hard coaching”, punishment and even shaming can work to get an athlete to do what you want in the moment, in the long run it undermines their personal motivation, creates fear of failure and disrupts their focus. Ultimately you get immediate compliance at the cost of long-term performance improvement.

Athletes and parents often have to consider tolerating a hard or abusive coach for the expertise he or she provides. Leaving the coach or team may mean a loss of quality, but the athlete is upset and struggling. If the coach won’t change what is the athlete to do?

It is a personal decision about how much the athlete is willing and able to tolerate. Can the athlete ignore it and let it roll off his or her back? Is the athlete feeling depressed or anxious outside of sport as a result? Where does the athlete draw the line between “hard coaching” and “verbal abuse”?

Parents, most importantly, if the athlete wants to discontinue sport or change teams because of an abusive coach – do not fear that they are “giving up” or “being a quitter” and expect them to tough it out. Understand that you are teaching them to protect themselves and set healthy boundaries.

Have you been in this type of situation? How did you make your decision to go or stay and handle the “abuse?” Let me know in the comments below.