Coaching by Intimidation Does NOT Work

By Dr. Jack Singer

To all parents of athletes who have to deal with arrogant, hostile, insulting coaches:

Coaches bullying kidsDuring my 33 years as a Professional Sport Psychologist, I have been disheartened by the volume of young athletes who describe coaches that “coach” by intimidation, threats and humiliation.  While I understand that many of these coaches are successful, what the coaches don’t seem to understand is that their success is a result of motivated young athletes who will tolerate these methods, rather than the method itself being the reason for the success.”

Every year, so many parents bring youngsters to me who are stellar, gifted athletes, but they want to quit their sport.  Afraid to say it’s because of the coach’s methods, for fear of looking weak, they come up with mysterious injuries and a whole host of reasons to describe why they no longer have the passion for the sport.

Most coaches don’t conduct exit interviews to determine why their charges quit, or switch coaches; instead, they write them off as wimps who couldn’t take the pressure.  Moreover, many parents get upset with their youngsters after all of the years of sacrifice and expense.

Now a well researched article documenting the plight of  youngsters who are “forced” to tolerate such coaches and parental pressure to continue, has been published.  Stay tuned for my summary of that article.  As a parent, or a coach, these findings will be eye opening!”

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(2) comments

Doug November 9, 2012

Hi- I am interested in the article you mention re: coaching by intimidation. My daughter who is an excellent tennis player is being coached by a great “techniques” coach but he uses intimidation to run his academy like a kingdom. He beats her down if she shares any information with us (parents) regarding her thoughts on training and the way the program is run. There is no middle ground. I find it infuriating but also feel helpless to do much. We do not have a ton of money and recently had to reduce her lessons from 2 a week to one. He has for the last 3 months given us a “free” lesson in addition to the one which we pay for each week. However, it has become apparent that the lesson is not actually “free” as he brings it up constantly to her that he is providing it and she should be SO grateful and humbled, even if the lesson is crap and it often is, now that it is “free”.

Dr. Jack Singer March 23, 2013

Hi again, Doug:

What ever happened with your daughter’s tennis and the coach?

Dr. Jack

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