Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When coach/coaches are obsessed with winning

This questions was on the blog as a response to another. Likely a good one to answer....

Jennifer F. said...

What would you recommend for parents who find themselves in a situation where the coach/coaches are obsessed with winning or use yelling and shaming, but finding another league is not an option? I live in a smal town, so there's often only _one_ choice for baseball, basketball, etc.

Great question and hard dilemma.

Keep in mind that the purpose of sports is to develop skills, to stay active and, most importantly, to have fun. If you find yourself with a coach whose strategy involves shaming and yelling, he has eliminated two of the three reasons we'd engage our sons in the opportunity of sports. Most often times, there are other options of other coaches or other leagues where we can find our way to a better case scenario. If you live in a small town, like Jennifer, it may be a more complicated puzzle to solve. I once worked with a family facing a similar challenge. They ended up (after alot of work) creating their own recreational league sponsored by their local church. The church ended up purchasing the uniforms and twenty-eight families combined resources to cover the cost of using space on another playing field.

A similar group of dads developed a "Sunday afternoon league." They go to a local park for flag football in the fall and baseball in the spring. It's an open league that is structured more like a pick up game. They sometimes play boys against boys and dads against dads. Once a month they combine teams for a father/son versus father/son competition. They've successfully re-integrated the three components mentioned above. Be creative in how you go about accomplishing those goals. We've culturally bought into the idea that organized sports and current leagues are the only options for boys to have an athletic experience. There are other ways to accomplish what boys need from athletics. We are the consumers and if we don't like what we're purchasing, we can always stop buying and create different options.

Some folks reading this would argue that a boy can benefit from navigating a challenging relationship with a coach. We would absolutely agree. He is developing a life skill in doing so. Our challenge would be that exposing him to a shaming experience early on could not only have some harmful emotional impact, but it could shut him down to the long term opportunity of engaging in sports again. We've seen too many young men who had a negative experience early on that closed the door to future opportunities. Particularly when boys are young, they should be in positive, encouraging, skill development opportunities that make sports seem enjoyable and with purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Just gave you guys props on my blog ... thanks for the Wild Things book ... Take care

    David Wever
    Every Man's Battle National Speaker