I was reading an article the other day about a coach who got reprimanded for the way they treated an athlete. It’s crazy to me thinking about how far we have come. When I was younger, coaches could pretty much say and do whatever they wanted and little to no one called them out or reported them. So much went unsaid that should have been brought to others attention for the safety of the athlete/s. 🙌🏻
I had one coach who expected perfection every time we walked into the gym. If you weren’t perfectly tight while performing a skill you could expect to get slapped. And it was a hard slap. Normally it left a red mark where you got hit and sometimes a bruise. She typically hit in the arm or leg but on the occasion you could expect her to pop you under the chin.
When doing a beam routine if she didn’t like what she was seeing she would actually walk up to you mid skill and shove you off the beam. You could be upside down, in the middle of a turn, etc, it didn’t matter. She would shove you right off. We had to be alert at all times in case she did this. If we weren’t paying attention and she pushed us, we ran the risk of falling on to another beam that was close to the one we were on, rolling ankle when hitting the floor or landing some other way that could cause injury. 🤸♂️
Another coach would hit us upside the head if he felt we weren’t focused. As if hitting someone in the head is going to make them focus! Sometimes if he hit you just right you would see stars for a few seconds.
If he didn’t think our flexibility was where it needed to be, he would make us get into the splits, prop our front leg on a raised mat and sit on us forcing our legs to the ground while one was inclined. It was painful and dangerous. You run the risk of tearing a muscle or ligament doing this to an athlete. When working flexibility you should always ease an athlete into things.
I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t tell my parents this was going on. What was there to tell?? At the time I thought this was normal. I thought this was how coaches made their athletes better. I thought this is how everyone was coached. I didn’t know any different at the time!
Having been a coach for over 15 years now myself, I realize this is NOT a healthy or safe way to coach an athlete. It’s actually considered abusive. It’s not an extreme form but it definitely falls into that category.
While I think a lot of people are too overly sensitive about coaching styles, I do think there are some old school coaching “techniques” that need to be done away with. For example, you don’t need to “lay a hand” on an athlete to push them to be better. Nor should you have to verbally attack an athlete to “light a fire” under them. If you want to push an athlete, encourage them and work with them. An athlete should never fear their coach and you shouldn’t try to make an athlete fear you to respect you. If you want respect from your athlete, earn it. Same as you’d expect of them!👍🏻