Category Archives: Parents

The Coaches Evaluation Form…should you participate?

Do you think coaching evaluation forms are safe?  When I first started filling out this form I felt like I was being given a voice and someone was going to hear me.  If I had a valid complaint or concern I fill out the form whether hard copy or downloading it online and the organization could act on it if they chose.  If I wanted to really talk up a coach I could do that too!

Either way, it gave me the opportunity to discuss in a very confidential manner a particular coach or team issues without the coach, parents or kids knowing.  I would always try to be positive because something inside of me always said “caution.”   These forms were supposed to be helpful to the organization when it came time for selecting coaches for the following year or helping the coach determine what did work and what didn’t work that year.  They tell us the forms can be anonymous and are confidential.  That’s right, they tell us these are confidential forms only to be read by the organization’s board.

THAT’S A LIE!  DON”T BELIEVE IT!  RUN THE OTHER WAY!!!!!

Your coach will see the form at some point or will get a verbal relay of what is on the form.  Coaching forms are for chickens that are unable to voice their opinions directly to the coach.  Don’t get me wrong, I have used them myself when I could not make headway with a coach and wanted someone above them to know.  They never worked.  When there is an issue with a coach, the normal way of thinking is to get a group to voice their concern.  The more parents willing to voice their concerns on an evaluation form over a particular issue with a coach; the more likely something will be done about it.

Sounds very logical, but listen to me clearly!  Parents want other parents to do their dirty work.  I have been in that scenario one too many times!  You have a group of parents who feel like the coach is unfair with playing time, favoring other players, has unrealistic expectations of his/her players, drinks too much, swears too much, doesn’t communicate with parents and the list is a mile long.  During the final game you all agree, the “coaches evaluation form is the answer.”

The percentages are working against you.  Generally, not even 25% of those parents will do your dirty work thinking you are doing it for them.  Ya, get the picture, you get to be the complainer, the trouble maker, the one people frown upon.  Nobody wants to get caught, especially if you are on a select/premier team in which the core players are kept together from year to year.  I have known coaches to cut kids who have parents that rip them on the coaches evaluation form, you know the forms that the organization assured us no coach would ever see!  Trust me, it happened to my kid and me!  More on that story in another post.

Do yourself a favor – don’t try to accomplish what should be done in person through an evaluation form.  If you have something to say that is important enough to you and your kid, do it in person with the coach or club administrators.  It is better to confront than to hide behind an evaluation form.  There might be some ill feelings, but at least what you feel will be out on the table and you can have a much more open relationship with your coach and club.  Even if it feels uncomfortable, you and your kid will have a much stronger relationship with your coaches in the future.  Any thoughts?  Let us know if you have approached this in a different way or have some experiences to share.

The “real outcome” from Coaching Evaluations…

After a season of frustration on a girl’s premier soccer team I decided to go ahead and fill out the infamous coache’s evaluation form.  Little did I know this would be the very last one I would fill out – EVER!!!

Everyone was given a form and it was supposed to be turned into the team manager.  I always opted out of the evaluation process because I would rather just talk to the coach if I had an issue.  But this coach was a train wreck!  The league hired him because he had a name in the sports industry, or at least his family did.  This premier team was totally out of control and these girls were faced with a selfish husband and wife coaching team with their daughter being on the team.  It was wrought with favoritism, jealousy, threats, chaos, drunkenness, chaos, lying, and the list could go on.

Of course, all the parents were so afraid to speak up for fear of their kids getting cut.  Yes, as parents, we live in fear of the coaches’ power to cut our kid from the team.  It’s exhausting!  So we try and play the game the right way.  We use the form to say all the nice things we can about the coach, knowing this is the “safest” way to keep your kid from any retribution from a coach.  And should the day come when their buddy in the front office gets a hold of the confidential forms and decides to share them with your coach…well, your kid could be done if you don’t say great things!  Do you think they can’t decipher who wrote it, even though your name is not on it?  Absolutely…It happens all the time in youth sports, I am just an example of another statistic!

I thought very carefully about the form, trying to dig deep and find a couple positives for every negative, which was hard to do with this coaching duo.  I was feeling so much pressure from the parents to fill out the form, much more than in past years when we didn’t have this coach.  I chalked the pressure up to the fact that my daughter was one of four girls singled out and picked on, criticized, and abused all year long.  So, I should be the one saying something about it, after all, I am my daughter’s advocate.  I gave my form to the manager and headed home.  As soon as I got home panic set in.  What if I didn’t sugar coat it enough!  Maybe I should have gone with 3 positives for every negative.  What if he really did know it was us writing this?  I quickly called the team manager and she was kind enough to pull it out and allow me to give her another one the next day.  I quickly revised the form, reducing the list of negatives downward and the number of positives went up.  I chose not to explain the problem areas in as much detail, leaving them much more vague.  I felt better about the delivery on the form while still keeping my focus and intent on making it a better place for my daughter.  It wasn’t “candy coated,” just a softer delivery with some more general positive comments.

A week later the coach calls a mandatory team meeting with the parents.  Tryouts were the following weekend.  The coach says, “I just want everyone to know there will be very few changes in the roster, maybe just a girl or two, who may decide to switch clubs but nothing major.  I had never been in a meeting with so many parental suck-ups…it was making my stomach turn!  Knowing how conniving and dishonest the coach was, every single person felt like it may be there kid that is the one or two being forced to switch soccer clubs—the one to be cut in other words.  During the meeting the coach was not friendly, in fact, he was quite defensive the entire meeting.

Then the coach started in on his agenda.  Point one, point two, point three, and the list went on – he was addressing every single item I had talked about in my form!  Nothing was added, nothing deleted, only the topics I addressed in my evaluation form.  The coach wouldn’t even look at us.  We knew he was speaking directly to us. Every single concern we had was valid and supported by other parents, if not formally.  The other parents all knew their kids were being abused but the almighty “Fear” of having their daughter cut so they kept their tail between their legs.  I was glad to have the issues addressed and didn’t really have any fear my daughter might be one of the girls that would be cut since she was one of only 18 girls in the nation to make the “All National Team” that year.

But once again, I was wrong.  You guessed it, our daughter was one of only two cut from the team.  What good are these coaches evaluation forms if the organization uses them against us?  The “Good Ole Boys Club” they call it in Premier soccer.  I will NEVER fill out another coach’s evaluation form!  Nothing is ever anonymous or confidential when it comes to Youth Sports.  So a word to the wise…be cautious.  Understand the worst that can happen and how strongly you feel about the consequences that can happen.  Coaches have egos the size of Texas so just know you are treading on thin ice.

If anyone has gone through this and been successful giving input, please share your success with us – we can all learn and hopefully move away from being afraid if we comment.  If we’re afraid of being our kids advocate in this situation, what does our kid think of us?  Even if the worst comes to happen, at least your kid knows you were in their corner and at the end of the day, that is what I felt, and still do, was most important.  Your kid will grow out of youth sports, but they won’t grow out of knowing what you did or didn’t do for them.

Is Emotional Abuse “black and white” or a “gray” area?

In my post, “Is it Emotional Abuse”, I had the opportunity to share some alarming statistics about how rampant abuse is in youth sports.  But just knowing the stats is not enough.  This is where you need to be an “active participant” for your kid and be their advocate with abusive coaches.  But first, there are some guidelines out there to help you determine if your kid is being abused?

We have put together some “Black and White” areas that if you ever see happening to your kid you should take corrective action immediately and get it stopped.  But first, you have to recognize what these forms of abuse are so you can engage.  The following are some common forms of emotionally abusive coach behaviour that has been proven to have a negative impact on youth athletes’ levels of confidence, fear, self-worth, mood states, and levels of depression.

THESE ARE BLACK AND WHITE AREAS WHERE THERE IS NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE

  • Public Humiliation and embarrassment in front of others
  • Belittling, putting down, making fun of, or when your kid is the brunt of a joke
  • Critical sarcasm that is uncalled for and not funny to your kid
  • Shouting and or yelling at your kid
  • Scapegoating, blaming or constant excuse making
  • Making your kid feel less worthy than his/her team mates
  • Rejecting your kid in any realm of the sport in any way
  • Telling your kid he/she is fat or overweight or has an undesirable body image
  • Isolating you kid away from other team mates
  • Threatening your kid about anything

THESE ARE SOME OF THE GRAY AREAS WHEN IT COMES TO EMOTIONAL ABUSE

  • Ignoring as if they didn’t exist, not listening to them The coach only stresses the importance of performing better than your opponent – This sounds counter intuitive, but an excessive emphasis on normative performance (winning) against others has been shown to correlate with increased worry, anxiety in competitive situations, and ultimate withdrawal from the activity
  • The coach pits his/her own players against each other during practices.
  • The coach spends more time in training phases than skill development phases.
  • The coach only values the best competitive performers.
  • Only the best performers are given recognition.
  • Recognition is given only for winning rather than effort and personal improvement.
  • Coaches make frequent comparisons of their players to other players, motivating them through guilt
  • The coach makes sexually inappropriate comments about gender, sexual preference, body attributes, or rival competitors.
  • The coach only works with one gender while neglecting the others in a co-ed sport

Remember parents, it is your job to stop abusive behavior.  In another post, I will talk about how to stop these coaches from abusing your kid!  In the meantime, there is a great story and resource that talks about the abuse in the sport of Judo that you might find interesting.

A very helpful resource, Focus Adolescent Resources, gives a number of examples of emotional abuse, including such topics as Belittling, Put-Downs, Teasing, Fault-finding, Intimidation, and others.  It’s worth the read and checking it out for more information on emotional abuse.

There are some great resources on the official Little League site under the Child Protection Program, which talks about both the need for background checks and training on Child Abuse Prevention. There is also a nice article on different types of abuse in sports, focused on soccer, and some signs you should be aware of when it comes to abuse.

Is it “Emotional Abuse?”

We sit on the sidelines watching our kids being screamed at, yelled at, put down by their coaches, and humiliated in front of their teammates.  We know something isn’t right and ask ourselves, “Is this emotional abuse?”

There were so many times my gut was in knots because of things the coaches would say or do to my kids – nothing was sitting right with me.  But I didn’t know for sure whether it was my expectations on how they should talk and act toward my kid or if it was in fact emotional abuse.  I learned to go with my gut instinct because, EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS HARD TO DEFINE!

There is a gray area and many coaches push those limits in the gray.  You need to remember, the older your kid gets, the higher the level of competition which means the higher the level of abuse. It gets much worse out there, and parents; it is YOUR JOB to stop abusive behavior before it stops your kid from playing.

I WISH I HAD THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION EARLIER… without question I would have e-mailed it to my kid’s coach!  Maybe it would have helped.  There are some interesting facts that were produced by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission.  They conducted a survey and found the following statistics about the incidences of abuse happening in youth sports.

  • 45.3% of males and females surveyed said they have been called names, yelled at or insulted while participating in sports
  • 17.5% of people surveyed said they have been hit, kicked or slapped while participating in sports
  • 21% said they have been pressured to play with an injury
  • 8.2% said they have been pressured to intentionally harm others while playing sports
  • 3.4% said they have been pressured into sex or sexual touching
  • 8% of all surveyed said they have been called names with sexual connotations while participating in sports

The end result is that there are more kids getting abused in youth sports today than any of us realize.  We all have to do our part to make our coaches aware of this and help them to understand the seriousness of the issue.  If they understand, maybe it will help them be more conscious of their actions before they engage in abusive behaviors.  Help your coach – share the information…

Monkey See, Monkey Do…The case of Mirror Neurons

If you missed my previous post, “No Joy Ride Home today”, I started to talk about Mirror Neurons.  I would encourage you to take a minute and read it before you dive into this post – it will help set the stage for why this is such an important topic.

Let me first start with a brief and simple description of how “mirror neurons” work.  When you are around someone in a bad mood you have a good chance of mimicking that person’s behavior – these are mirror neurons.  These mirror neurons give you the ability to empathize and connect deeply with another’s emotions (empathy), yet cause you to act out and mimic the behavior without even knowing it.

When you are around someone who is happy, do you find yourself happy? Do their emotions rub off on you?  Do you start acting happy like they are? I know I do and I love it!  When the mirror neurons fire up, I mimic the happy jolly person I am around!  This is how happiness spreads to others.  Unfortunately, this is also true for someone who is in a bad mood and around other people.  The bad mood can spread like a wild fire.  Without getting too technical here, you connect with your son/daughter on a deep emotional level.  You feel their pain and hurt.  Your mirror neurons start firing up and what you see…you do!  It’s as simple as, “Monkey see Monkey do!”

Why do we cry at movies and why do we get so connected and wrapped up in emotions when are sports teams are playing?  Mirror Neurons!  When our kids are playing a sport, why does their unpleasant mood takeover our cheery disposition?  Mirror Neurons.  If you would like more info on mirror neurons, check out this video clip by Nova.

Have you seen this happening with your own kids?  They have a bad game, get in the car and the mood of everyone takes a spiral downwards.  What have you found that works to prevent their bad moods from spreading?  Share your stories and suggestions – everyone can benefit and hopefully we will all have more pleasant rides home after our games.

TEN (10) Benefits to NOT carrying your kids bags…

I got thinking…after posting my story about carrying my kids sports bags and how I cured myself of this problem, I thought  I should “arm” you with some benefits at the same time.  So consider this “Part Two” of the Bat Bag Story and hopefully give you some good reasons to share with others and… Continue Reading

The Team CROW…

I was sitting outside in my backyard, soaking up the warm sunshine and the Vitamin D on this winter day when the sounds of the different birds chirping brought back the peaceful feeling of Springtime.  I was so relaxed and content and enjoying the beauty and serenity.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the… Continue Reading