Before you sign your kids up for a team, don’t hesitate to interview the coach. You should ask them about their coaching philosophy and how they handle important issues such as missing practice, and playing time. If your young athletes are already part of a team, but don’t seem happy with the coach, you need to do some research. Is the coach always unhappy with your athlete’s performance, no matter how well they perform?
Gently ask your kids questions about how the coaches treat the team and watch carefully for how they react. You might ask other parents what they’ve seen or heard. Attend games and practices and keep a lookout for the sign of bullying we mentioned bullying on the team.
Watch for signs that your sports kids are being bullied. They may be afraid of the coach, focus too much on trying to impress the coach, and they may be afraid of going to practice. They may also say they don’t want to play sports anymore. Or they may try to avoid going to practices or games.
If you see or hear about a coach who yells at, intimidates or insults kids, you should take action. If you merely sit back and complain, you’re part of the problem. Instead, you need to begin by talking to the coach. You can gently suggest that his or her behavior may hurt kids’ confidence.
When you speak to the coach, try to avoid blaming him or her. This will only make the coach defensive. You might say, “I’m concerned that your yelling at my son is hurting his confidence.” Don’t say, “You’re a terrible coach because you yell.”
In some cases, you may find that you can’t change the coach’s behavior. If this happens, you should consider moving your child to a different coach or team. “Staying with the same coach is likely to lead to increased anxiety and decreased athletic performance at a minimum.
In short, it’s important to try to find a coach who’s likely to build success and confidence in your young athlete. Think hard about staying with coaches who hurt your kids’ confidence. While you’re making these decisions, understand it’s critical for you to nurture your athletes’ physical and psychological health. If your players act as if–or say–they feel angry, ashamed, guilty, anxious or sad about playing for their coach, listen to them. If you can’t improve, you should consider finding a new team for your young athlete.