Coaches Bullying their Athletes

by celine.m on February 7, 2015 - 3:33pm

Coaches are extremely influential individuals in a child’s life when they are participating in a sport or any physical activity. Some coaches have a positive effect on children while others can negatively impact their mental health and overall academic and athletic performances. It is hard to imagine and admit that many coaches have demonstrated mental abuse on such athletes. This can be considered as bullying. According to JustPlay, a national sport research firm that logs critical incidents in youth sports leagues, 40% of youth hockey, baseball and football games either contain direct or indirect abuse. When speaking about direct abuse this implies hitting, demoralizing the athletes or considering violent behavior in order to win a game. Indirect abuse is when a coach harasses the officials, spectators and opposing players.

Being bullied by coaches is a lot more present than we would think which is quite surprising. In a study conducted in the United Kingdom, out of six thousand athletes, 75% of them confirmed that they have been physiologically damaged and  one third said there coach was the one to blame for their distress. What the coaches need to understand is that  a line needs to be drawn between being tough and being abusive. I think that it’s alright for coaches to push their athletes to become the best they can be, but when bullying is involved, that's when it needs  to stop.

I can completely relate to this problem since I have been practicing sports for a very long time. What I find quite surprising is the fact that we, as athletes, don’t want to report the problem because we think that this behavior is normal and that all the coaches are conducting in the same way. This is the way many of my teammates felt about our situation. However when I decided to quit and continue my athletic career with another coach, I realized that what my coach was doing was not right. Getting the view from another coaches perspective made me realize that some coaches really can have a positive influence on you and make you a better athlete overall.

Being bullied by a coach demoralizes your well-being. You feel like you’re not good enough, that your coach does not like you and in the long run that your not good at anything. Being told that you ‘’suck’’ at every practice can really affect your emotional being and can lead to an athletes burn out. When it reaches the stage where your child understands that his coaches’ behaviour is not normal, something needs to be done or reported. However, when we decided to report a complaint no measures were taking to suspend my coach or even discuss with him.


This leads me to say that federations in any sport need to take this matter a little more seriously. This is not a small problem that can be resolved in a day or even left on the side because it is not important enough. These behaviours negatively effect children’s lives and who knows how long it might take for them to feel good about themselves again.


Your summary is really surprising. I cannot believe that so much bullying is present in the relationship coach-athletes. Your personal experience gives a lot of credibility to the story. The comparison you are doing between two coaches is also a good method to show how you experienced both ways of doing, and how you drew a final conclusion. In general, nice paper!

Reading your summary I was extremely surprised at how many people get psychologically damaged from someone that we put our trust in.
Much like you, I can relate to this problem. About six years ago I joined the inter-city soccer team, which is supposed to be fun during the summer and not taken too seriously. The first year I played I had an amazing coach, lending us a helping hand if we were struggling with a play and make sure we were well hydrated during the game and after, as well as the practices.
However, when I played the following summer I had a coach who could care less about the players and was strictly dedicated to winning and making our summer a living hell. The practices were never learning new plays or practicing real games it was constantly running for long periods of time. We would have practices that would last way longer than they intentionally were supposed to be, and we didn’t nearly get enough breaks to drink water or stretch like we should have been allowed considering how long the practices were. The worst thing would be the yelling we would get from the coach after a game if we didn’t do a play right.
I quit that summer and have never played on a soccer time since then. Coaches are supposed to encourage you and make you love the sport and have fun. Not criticize you for something small, and make you emotionally damaged by it. All this to say, you are not the only one and I am glad that you were able to find a coach that was more suitable and was able to encourage you. Much like you, I agree that there must be something done that players are able to talk to someone if they believe that their coaches’ behavior isn’t normal.