by Dr. Patrick Cohn
Although motocross for the average youth rider normally does not involve coaches and certainly not a team, a lot of kids who ride also play team sports at school. This is where bad coaches can have a huge impact on the psyche of a young motocross athlete. For this reason motocross parents need to be extra vigilant against the bully coach and be aware of bullying themselves. I'm old school and believe in ruling with an iron fist so this is not about coddling your youngster. It's about coaches who don't know their you-know-what from a hole in the ground and are on a power trip. Theses are bully coaches. Our good friend Dr. Patrick Cohn, a sports psychologist, wrote the following article that I thought would be very helpful to all the motocross parents who follow this site. - Virtual Trainer
What's the biggest complaint we get from sports parents? Bully coaches. These are coaches who scream at, intimidate, harass or scare young athletes—usually in the name of motivating them to perform better.
"My daughter was bullied relentlessly on her high school gymnastics team by her coach," says one sports parent. "She was screamed at in front of her entire team after every meet, called names, criticized for everything, including how she talked, how she looked, what she wore. She was hanged in effigy."
"I want to know how I should handle a coach who teaches in a very negative way," writes another sports parent. "He puts the children down and scolds them in front of everybody. He calls my son a knucklehead all the time and gives negative comments. There is very little positive. My son is very sensitive to this and wants to quit."
In some cases, kids quit sports altogether because they've been bullied by a coach. Sometimes they don't explain to their parents why they're quitting. That's because they're embarrassed. But that's not the only problem. Kids who are bullied by coaches often feel their confidence sink, worry more, are afraid of making mistakes, perform poorly and experience lower self-esteem. Often, bullied kids think there's something wrong with them. That's one of the reasons they don't always tell their parents what's going on. They think it's their fault that the coach is attacking them.
Here's the good news: As parents, there is lots you can do. First, you can choose coaches who don't bully. Do that by checking out a coach before you place your child on a team. Watch a few practices. Talk to other parents. Does the coach put kids down, yell at them, or give more negative feedback than positive? Do the kids like the coach? If you uncover a bully coach, keep looking for another team. If your kids are already on a team, watch for signs that they are being bullied. They may feel anxious before practices and games. They may act as if they're afraid of doing something wrong in front of the coach. They may try to avoid going to practice or games. Or they may say they want to quit altogether. They may tell you outright that they don't like the coach. Be sure to listen to their concerns.
If the coach is the only game in town, and you decide to keep your kids on the team, you can help your kids use sports psychology strategies to boost their confidence levels. Help them focus on their game--not on what the coach says to them. Help them "stay in the moment" by creating small, manageable goals that they can focus on.
Want to learn more about bullying in sports? We have two great options for you. If you join Kids' Sports Psychology, you'll get for free our new e-book, "Bully Coaches: Helping Sports Parents Take Action," as part of your membership. Along with the e-book, you'll gain access to our many e-books, articles, audios, videos and Q and A resources—all designed to help you and your kids make the most of youth sports. You can buy our program, "Helping Young Athletes Stay Confident and Mentally Tough in the Face of Bullies," which covers all forms of bullying in youth sports.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.