Coaching…..

I was reading an article the other day about a coach who got reprimanded for the way they treated an athlete. It’s crazy to me thinking about how far we have come. When I was younger, coaches could pretty much say and do whatever they wanted and little to no one called them out or reported them. So much went unsaid that should have been brought to others attention for the safety of the athlete/s. 🙌🏻

I had one coach who expected perfection every time we walked into the gym. If you weren’t perfectly tight while performing a skill you could expect to get slapped. And it was a hard slap. Normally it left a red mark where you got hit and sometimes a bruise. She typically hit in the arm or leg but on the occasion you could expect her to pop you under the chin.

When doing a beam routine if she didn’t like what she was seeing she would actually walk up to you mid skill and shove you off the beam. You could be upside down, in the middle of a turn, etc, it didn’t matter. She would shove you right off. We had to be alert at all times in case she did this. If we weren’t paying attention and she pushed us, we ran the risk of falling on to another beam that was close to the one we were on, rolling ankle when hitting the floor or landing some other way that could cause injury. 🤸‍♂️

Another coach would hit us upside the head if he felt we weren’t focused. As if hitting someone in the head is going to make them focus! Sometimes if he hit you just right you would see stars for a few seconds.

If he didn’t think our flexibility was where it needed to be, he would make us get into the splits, prop our front leg on a raised mat and sit on us forcing our legs to the ground while one was inclined. It was painful and dangerous. You run the risk of tearing a muscle or ligament doing this to an athlete. When working flexibility you should always ease an athlete into things.

I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t tell my parents this was going on. What was there to tell?? At the time I thought this was normal. I thought this was how coaches made their athletes better. I thought this is how everyone was coached. I didn’t know any different at the time!

Having been a coach for over 15 years now myself, I realize this is NOT a healthy or safe way to coach an athlete. It’s actually considered abusive. It’s not an extreme form but it definitely falls into that category.

While I think a lot of people are too overly sensitive about coaching styles, I do think there are some old school coaching “techniques” that need to be done away with. For example, you don’t need to “lay a hand” on an athlete to push them to be better. Nor should you have to verbally attack an athlete to “light a fire” under them. If you want to push an athlete, encourage them and work with them. An athlete should never fear their coach and you shouldn’t try to make an athlete fear you to respect you. If you want respect from your athlete, earn it. Same as you’d expect of them!👍🏻

Will you go back?

I would say at least once a week someone asks me if I miss teaching and coaching. My answer isn’t a yes but it’s also not a no. It’s a sort of…..

I loved being in the classroom. Every day was different. I had 180 students with different back grounds, different stories and different beliefs. I enjoyed what I did, most days. I would say 95% of the time I loved teaching. The other 5% I wanted to be anywhere else but in the classroom. I think we all have those days with every job.

Teaching high school isn’t easy. Kids are more opinionated at that age. But I do miss watching students faces when they learned something new. Some with excitement and some with confusion as if what they thought previously was completely wrong.

I have my days where I miss coaching and then those that I don’t. Being a private coach hired in by the school is way different than being a teacher in the school hired as a sponsor/coach as well. The level of respect is different too. When I coached as a private coach with no affiliation to the school, I had limited parent contact. I communicated with the kids and the sponsor and rarely parents. The sponsor was my middle man. It helped keep me out of any drama and left me to just do my job coaching. I also felt the parents respected me more. When I came into contact with them, they treated me like I was the professional and knew what I was doing. It was different when I was a teacher hired in as a coach. Despite my background as a Big12 cheerleader, Semi pro cheerleader, and Worlds Judge, some parents acted as if so had no idea what I was doing. They would constantly tell me how to do my job or attack me if they felt I was doing something wrong. I was excessively dragged into parent drama. You think teenage girls can cause drama?? You have yet to see a group of middle ages cheer moms! It made my job more difficult and more stressful.

Would I ever go back to coaching? Well….If I ever went back to coaching it would be as a private coach, not a teacher/coach. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I described at every school. And I did have some pretty amazing cheer moms who trusted me to do my job and fully supported me and the team. But often times those negative moms overshadowed the positive and made my job very hard and very stressful. So ultimately private coaching would be my go to choice if I had to.

Would I ever go back to teaching? Maybe! I think I enjoyed it enough that I would. But not in the near future. I like being a stay at home mom. I like not missing a minute of anything my kids do. 💙