Category Archives: Players

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.

Benched because she started her Period…

She was in the 6th grade and it was summertime during the softball District All-Star Tournament.  The team had a game the night before and she had a fabulous game.  The coach told her she had the starting position in the outfield the next day.  This was a girl that had to work twice as hard as most of the girls to get to where she was as athletics did not come naturally.

After the game she ran into the bathroom only to find out her period had come for the very first time ever!  Somehow the coach, a great guy, with several young girls of his own, got wind of it.  The next night she had another game only this particular All-Star game she didn’t start.  This would normally have been fine except that she was told she would start and didn’t even get a chance to play, which was very abnormal.

After the game she asked the coach why he didn’t play her.  The coach looked at her and said, “Well I heard you started your period yesterday and I didn’t think you would be feeling like playing today.”  She said “I feel fine” and walked away, then found us and told us what he had said.  Talk about an intrusion into someone’s personal business.  An assumption made on a stereotype.  We later talked to the coach about the situation at a more appropriate time and he was very apologetic to both my daughter and to us for his stereotyping!

During those very delicate 11-12 year old All-Star years, a time when many girls become women, there should be a female on the coaching team or at the very least in the dugout with the girls for just this reason.

As for you dads and male coaches out there who coach girls ages 11-13; just know your players are going to become women during this time and YOU need to be prepared!  Don’t assume and treat these girls like they are sick puppies.  Instead, ask them how they feel, especially if you have reason to believe they are not up to playing.  They will tell you how they feel and you will be showing respect and courtesy towards your player.  After all, a key to youth sports is to build self-esteem and be supportive of your team players.

“Neutered Coaches” – Avoid them at all Costs…

There are a lot of them out there!  Neutered coaches that are such wimps they can’t even tell a player she’s been cut from the team.  Baseball, soccer, and softball have some of the worst!

My daughter was 14 years old and had sustained a shoulder injury but managed to get through the rest of the ASA season.  She was a catcher and outfielder and her life was all about softball.  The season ended with a trip to the ASA Softball World Series.  The team was tight and most of the girls truly liked each other, which was rare for that age!

A month after the World Series this select team was the very last one in the area to hold tryouts.  Because it was a select team, it wasn’t under the umbrella of an organization.  This meant they could conduct tryouts any which way they wanted to.  There were 18 spots on the team and 38 girls trying out.  However, he decided since there were so many players they would have an “A” team and a ”B” team. The coach assured all the returning players they would make one of the teams.   None of the girls were worried (at least outwardly) about getting bumped down to the “B” team…but maybe they should have been.

The coach said he was going to send an e-mail to all the players letting everyone know which team they were on by the end of the next day.  We waited and waited as the days went by. Finally, a friend on the team forwarded my daughter the e-mail that had been sent out to the other 37 girls who tried out letting them know what team they were on.  My daughter’s name was not on either list!  We didn’t panic and told her it must have been on over sight.  My husband then called the coach to find out what was going on.

This is where it got really interesting.  He said that he thought she was injured and he wanted her to rest her shoulder, so he didn’t put her on a team.  What the heck?  Her injury was mild and only needed a 4 week rest, according to her physical therapist.  She was at tryouts, tried out, and he saw her!  He didn’t talk to her about taking time off.  He didn’t tell her she would be placed on any injured reserve list. He never even talked to our kid during tryouts, never! You were simply on the team or not on the team. He told them.

The teams (both A and B) had their team kickoff BBQ meeting the night before and we were not invited or included, that’s when we got the hint.  We were flabbergasted and I had a daughter that was devastated. This team had been her life for several years.   Cut from a team and the coach didn’t even bother to tell her.  Talk about inflicting intentional wounds and abusing a coach’s power.  Try explaining that to a 14 year old.  And the worst part of it all, there was not a darn thing we could do about it…nothing, absolutely nothing !  It was the beginning of the end of a sport.

I know I am not the only one out there that has had this kind of experience, they happen all the time in youth sports.  Is there anyone you know who has had a similar experience, their kid was cut by a neutered coach, someone who didn’t have the decency or guts to be honest with a kid?

When there is no recourse to a coach like this, the best thing is to not waste time wallowing in self pity!  Pick yourself up and help pick your kid up and go try out for another team…there is always another team!

Do you know what your kid is doing on Road Trips?

It was his last year in baseball before going off to college.  All summer his parents couldn’t figure out why their son, a kid who lived for the game, was not very excited about his “traveling team” road trips.  As long as his parents could remember, they were always one of the highlights of his summer!  But now, for some reason, he was dreading them more than looking forward to them.

Of course, he never mentioned why this changed until one day, half way through the summer, he announced, “I’m not going on anymore road trips with his team.”  Ya, his parents were in shock!

On these road trips, the coaches would go off to the local bar, give the players a 1:00am curfew, and carry on until all hours of the night and morning.  What they seemed to forget is that these kids were only 17 years old.  But these coaches who we left in charge and responsible for our kids never knew what the players were doing while they were busy partying it up.

The team was not winning a lot of games, or even caring about being there, and the team didn’t really feel like a team to their son.  What was really going on with his team?  Some of the boys would sneak out of the hotel at night, find a car to use and then go into the local gas station mini marts, steal some beer and the “get away” car would be waiting outside.  They would go and get drunk while the coaching staff was out doing the same.  Then everyone would wake up with a hangover and go to the game!  Yay…fun!  Fortunately, it didn’t include everyone on the team, but did include a good chunk of the boys.  The rest of the boys would wander the streets looking for a place to get food, knowing they didn’t have to be back until 1:00am.

The icing on the cake was when some of the boys who were stealing the beer got caught by the store owner as he ran out after them.  They didn’t know what happened to the boys that night after they were caught, but it was enough for their son to decide he did not want to be associated with a baseball team like that.

Shame on you coaches for turning a blind eye to your team’s behavior.  They left you in charge of their sons and you didn’t stay sober enough to keep an eye on them.  Anyone out there ever have an experience like this with your son or daughter or with coaches that didn’t take responsibility for your kids?  What did you do when you found out?  How did this impact the team overall?  We would all love to hear your stories and comments…

No “Joy Ride” Home today…

The game ends and the coach is giving the post-game talk with the players sitting in a circle around him.   It ends and the team breaks up and heads to the parking lot to meet their parents.  Suddenly, you observe your kid walking slowly towards the car, not even acknowledging the fact you are standing… Continue Reading