To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence by Christina Silies via Odyssey is a great (and sad) illustration of the impact on a child of a coach who bullies.

Unfortunately, this is not an aberration.

42% of children report being bullied by coaches

And the adverse impact is both immediate and longitudinal.

Bullying as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)

ACE, or adverse childhood experience, is a potentially traumatic event that can have negative, lasting effects on a person. For children and youth in situations of prolonged and repeated abuse – like bullying and cyberbullying – the impact can affect their development, the way they interact with others, and how they perform in school. It may also affect mental and physical health.

Excerpts from the article* …

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court.

You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn’t always successful with my weaknesses.

Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back.


* There is no surprise to me that I was alerted to this article by Kevin Doepp, founder of Crack of the Bat. Not only is he an amazing hitting instructor, he is also a caring coach who understands the impact on the field and in life a coach can have on a child.

BULLYING BY COACHES is harmful and can lead to tragic ends. Together with the 10 steps below we can identify it, stop it, mitigate its impacts, and help our children achieve their optimal health—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

10 Steps to Bench Bullying by Coaches[1]

  1. Interview the coach and his/her staff. Ask about philosophy, priorities, playing time, values and how he/she measures the outcomes of each.
  2. If your child is already on the team and you have concerns, ask your child about his/her experiences, the messages that are being sent, listen to understand and follow each path your child raises a concern about.
  3. Inquire of other parents who currently or who previously had children on the team.
  4. Look for red flags: According to Kody Moffatt, MD, a pediatrician in Omaha and executive committee member of the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number one red flag is a coach who wants “closed practices” where parents and other adults are barred from the practice. “That may be innocent, but as a pediatrician, a parent and a coach, I don’t think any coach should tell an adolescent not to tell another adult something.”
  5. Be sure to attend (or perhaps rotate with other trusted adults) your child’s practices.
  6. If you notice bullying behavior, document it and include specifics.
  7. Identify and map behaviors to team, school and/or league codes of conduct. Use this as a tool to share very specific examples of your concerns.
  8. Address your concerns directly with the coach. Focus on the impact on the children and be specific.
  9. If discussion with the coach is unsuccessful, reach out to the athletic director, school officials (if school-based program), and/or league officials, and share your findings.

NOTE: It is absolutely crucial to make note of how the coach is treating your child AND it is also critical to keep an eye out for how the other children are being treated as well. These are our communities and regardless of whom the child is, these behaviors are unacceptable, and it is incumbent upon us all to speak up for those who cannot do so for themselves and make a difference.

  1. Ensure that you also focus on developing warm and trusting family relationships and positive home environments so that if your child is bullied the negative outcomes from the bullying will be minimized. According to the study “Families promote emotional and behavioural resilience to bullying: evidence of an environmental effort” published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, “Warm family relationships and positive home environments help to buffer children from the negative outcomes associated with bullying victimization.”


© 2018 DHLG. All rights reserved

[1] Originally published by the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) and now available in the book The Big Kid and Basketball … and the lessons he taught his Father and Coach

Together with our Head on a Swivel we will stop bullying.




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