Thursday, June 4, 2020
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First of all, love your blog and articles.  Need to ask a question:


When is it acceptable to yell at 9-year-old athletes?  The reason I ask is my son plays on a competitive level team and a club team locally.  The coach is very demanding.  He yells and stomps around the sideline during practice, warm-ups, and games and during post game meetings. Keep in mind I played growing up and I have had my share of intense coaching but usually it is countered by some positive reinforcement.   There is NONE here.  Some of the things I have heard him say directly to the kids:

“Are you guys are going to lose by 30?  I am not even going to show up. Are you the worst defensive player on the team? You are the weakest player on the team. Are you kidding me?” Repeatedly referring to his own players in these demeaning ways.

He’ll even point to the other team and within earshot and say “these guys are terrible you should beat them by 50!”My son and another player told me that they hate coming to practices and games and my son doesn’t want to play basketball anymore after playing for the last 4 years, including a couple club tournaments.  I know the answer should be apparent but a number of the other parents, in response to the coach’s email supported this behavior.  Am I missing something?  We all want our kids to play at a high level but is this the price to be paid?

Steve, NY



ARE YOU KIDDING ME? No, no, no, you are not missing anything; this coach is missing it all. Finish the season as best you can, using this as a teaching tool for your son, and then move on. Find a different coach.

I say finish out the season, but he is going to need the positive influence and affirmation from you. He needs to learn that it is important to stick it out when he makes a commitment, especially when it is a temporary event.


This is where you get to be that awesome dad that loves and cherishes his son no matter what. This will have a profound effect on him, even over-riding the negative experience from this coach. Your affirmations and your commitment to walk beside him and love him unconditionally will be what shapes him more than a bad experience with a coach.


I will admit that kids can also be negatively affected by a silent coach; a coach who shows no energy, a coach who doesn’t get into the games, or a coach who does not verbally and strongly encourage, correct and guide.   In my decades of running my club basketball teams, it is the quiet passive coach, or that non-teaching coach that generates more parent complaint calls to my office.

Parents want their kids to be taught with energy and excitement.


The BIG difference comes in the attitude of the coach. There is nothing better than a coach who is “in to it” jumping up and down, but who never, ever, crushes the spirit of the kids. Yelling is for instruction, teaching, affirmation, and encouraging.  When correction is needed (which by the way, a good coach is always correcting and guiding) it is done with a sense of approval and in a non-threatening approach.


This is coaching; guiding the kids with enthusiasm with the goal to: learn how to compete, improve individual skill level, understand the game and its strategies, develop relationships, and grow in confidence!


Don’t you just love to watch a loud coach with love and affirmation in his inflection, coaching, training and teaching kids?


If you think that berating and humiliating kids will get them to play better or enjoy the game more, then you are wrong.




If you have questions and/or comments for Tom Kuyper, email him at:

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