Many times, positive coaching is easy to identify. But is it easy to identify verbal abuse? Verbal abuse takes many forms. Identifying when there is verbal abuse in coaching is key to making changes.


Situation –  One teammate has participated in extra training over the summer, resulting in better conditioning and faster skill acquisition. 


Negative Statement by a coach to teammates: “Look at Ashley. Do you know why she can do this and you guys can’t? Because she worked with a trainer all summer while the rest of you were sitting on your butts eating potato chips.


Negative Outcome – Alienates teammates from each other, building resentment. There may be less cheering for each other during practice, possibly resulting in gymnasts with less confidence and therefore lower scores at meets.


Positive Statement by a coach to teammates: “I feel that strategically adding muscle mass can help your performance. If you are up to it, I can suggest a trainer. 


Positive Outcome – Other teammates participate in extra conditioning and training, which can result in faster skill acquisition and better performance for athletes as a whole.


Situation – An athlete with an injury has seen a doctor and gives the doctor’s note explaining the injury and limitations to the coach.


Negative Action by coach: Crumples it up and throws it in anger.


Negative Outcome: Athletes become afraid to give information about their injury to the coach, and may harm themselves with inappropriate practice for the injury. 


Positive Action by the coach: Coach takes the doctor’s note and says, “Thank you, this is good information to have. Let’s concentrate on what you can work on safely while we’re waiting on this injury to heal.”


Positive Outcome: Athlete is comfortable sharing medical information with the coach, heals more quickly, and may still be able to work on other safe skill development in the meantime. 


Situation – One athlete is exhibiting a skill better than another athlete. 


Negative Statement by coach: The coach yells, “Lara can do this, why can’t you?!”


Negative Outcome: Athletes become resent each other. Also, each athlete may exhibit talents in different areas. To expect each athlete to show the exact proclivities limits the unique talents that each athlete may develop.


Positive Statement by the coach: “You are doing this part of the skill well. I would like your cast a little higher.  You might want to observe the technique I showed you when Lara does her cast to see if you can take away any tips.


Positive Outcome: Athletes are able to learn from each other in a supportive environment. More positive learning means better performance.




Situation – An athlete is injured.


Negative Action by coach: Injured athletes are placed in a group that is mostly ignored and not given as much coaching.


Negative Outcome: Injured athletes hide their injuries or practice injured. They can become deconditioned by not being coached as vigorously, and may be more prone to another injury.


Positive Action by the coach: Coaches focus on finding ways that injured athletes can still condition and/or acquire alternate skills while still practicing safely.


Positive Outcome: When injured athletes recover, they are in good condition, may have acquired alternate skills, and are ready for full practice in at least as good condition as prior to the injury if not better.


My nickname is Mickey, I'm a senior in high school, and I graduate in May 2018. I have done many sports throughout my life such as gymnastics, CrossFit, track & field, tennis, surfing, archery, dance, and running.