My 12-year-old son has been playing club basketball for two years now. He has had three different coaches but has been with the same coach for about a year now.
Our team wasn’t producing very many wins so the coach decided to change his coaching style approximately 6 weeks ago. His new style is to be condescending and rude to the players. Instead of saying “Billy, you are getting beat on defense and your players are scoring on you” and then giving his advice on how not to let that happen, he says to his teammates, “Anyone can score 15 points on Billy because he always gets beat by his player”. This is only one example of what has been said not just my son but also several of the boys on the team. I have had conversations with him regarding his new style and he will not apologize for his behavior. All of the players have voiced to each other that they are scared of him during games and do not want to play for him any longer.
I do not advocate quitting in the middle of the season however I cannot teach my son that being talked to in this manner is the right way to go about things. He quit the team last Thursday and three other boys followed in our footsteps. We felt bad for the remaining five boys but felt it was right in our hearts. Only two other parents think this is acceptable for their sons to go on to the next level.
I know you have played and coached basketball for many years. Do you think that this coach is correct in coming across as condescending and degrading or should he find another coaching style that is a little more humane? I sent him a sincere email telling him that he was not like this when we started this season and he came back with a snide, hate filled email accusing me of hand holding and coddling my son.
Thanks for your input,
Rita from New York
No, No, No! This is a lame, dishonorable way to coach! It sounds like the coach didn’t know where else to turn, so he thought he’d try manipulation. This lacks integrity. Most kids do not respond positively to exploitation, sarcasm, or condescending remarks. This couldn’t be a more opposite approach to what is good.
Demeaning and intimidating will cause most kids to play out of fear. When kids play out of fear, they hold back and playing timid and with no confidence. That all adds up to failure.
Youth coaches need to all know that kids respond so much better to affirmation and positive instruction.
Sure, come on, we all know that we can get too excited at times and go over the deep end, but it should never, ever come at the cost of a kid’s confidence.
I also know that some kids can’t take any kind of correction. This is not good either. Loud instructive coaching is a good thing if it is done in an affirming and positive manner. I love it when coaches get excited and are passionate, and verbal, as long as it is in the best interest of the kids and as long as it doesn’t break the spirit of the kids.
It is hard for me to respond to your choice in leaving the team, as I don’t know all the details. My general thoughts are to stick it out and have you, the parents exercise your ability to encourage and use this as a teaching tool for the kids, at least until the end of the season. If this is a club team that goes on indefinitely as some teams do, then getting out sooner than later, is sometimes the right thing to do.
Bad coaching and a bad team can be used as a growing tool for kids if it is a short-term (8 week season kind of thing) situation.
I am sorry that the fun and inspiration of youth sports sometimes gets taken out of the equation. Come on coaches, let’s instruct with integrity!
If you have comments or questions for Tom Kuyper, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org