Coaches Abusive coaches (mirrored from parent forum)

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Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Wanted to open this topic to comments from coaches.

Hi there,

I'm new to this board and am not sure if I have a real problem on my hands or this is typical of a competitive coach.

My daughter is 7 yrs old and she came away from her coach crying saying the coach hurt her by poking her really hard in the stomach and butt to try to make her tighten her muscles. She now has slight bruising where the coach poked. Previous to this she has complained about her coach hurting her while pushing down too hard for splits and stretches, but I just discounted it. She has this coach once a week and the other days she has another. She said no onther coach has ever hurt her before. Another girl on her team came up to me right after the incident and said that the coach had hurt her before as well, and actually used her foot to poke her. A few other parents told me of similar things happening to their daughters.

She yells and is very demeaning on the girls. Many have quit because of it. Although many parents are aware of this, and I know there have been several complaints, the club seems to take no action. There seems to be an aura of fear about speaking out now. Some people just don't complain for fear I guess of being ostrasized. Some justify it by being of the mind that while the coach is over the top and crosses the line she is just "old school."

The coach came to see where my daughter was and when I told her she was crying because of the pokes, she got very angry and told me among other things that she was lazy with her stomach and legs and if she doesn't tighten up the way she holds her back she will get scoliosis. She went on like a crazy women. She was saying or ranting that her and my daughter maybe shouldn't work together because they don't see eye to eye (my daughter is 7....she is in her late 40s or 50s) I was so angry I was speechless. I had to leave before I blew up.

Personally I am beginning to think she may be a little sadistic. Any thoughts on this? I'm not sure where to go with this. Obviously the complaints the club has prevously had about her have had no effect.
I think your intuition is correct, and that this coach is way overdriven. I would hesitate to use the word sadistic, as I suspect the coach's motives are a bit more complex and not so deliberately sinister, but I nonetheless would be worried.

To clarify: a bit of poking to get them to tighten up, a bit of yelling when they aren't focused, and other things like that are completely normal. However, it sounds to me like this coach is going WAY overboard. Pokes to remind a kid to tighten up certainly should not cause bruising. As for yelling, that's a bit more controversial, but I try to avoid yelling unless a kid is clearly not focused and in danger of hurting herself or her teammates, or if they're being extremely disrespectful.

But almost as frightening to me, and far less debatable, is how this coach and the gym as a whole seem to be dealing with the parents. Any allegations of abusive behavior by a coach should be taken VERY seriously. If the owner genuinly is ignoring your concerns, I would leave immediately without second thought. Honestly, if I were to find out that something like this was going on at the gym I work at, I'd quit and look for a job at another gym.

My first piece of advice would be to organize as many parents as possible to jointly complain about the issue. Then see where things go from there.

Your daughter can probably answer your questions better than any of us can. If she dreads every practice with this coach and genuinely doesn't want to go to gym on those days, it's time to pull her out.
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I agree that some poking and yelling is necessary, but as GT said it should only be used to a certain extent. I would definitely ask around and get the parents together. First, I would suggest either writing a letter or talking as a whole group to the coach, to respectfully voice concern. Then, if nothing is changed, I would take it to the powers that be and voice a formal complaint as a whole. This is something that should not be taken lightly, and if the owners do not see that then there's a problem.

One thing on the side of the coach is that there are some programs out there that use this coaching method (i'm not saying it's the right or wrong method to coaching), and they're not for everyone. Personally, I don't support the abusive coaching, but i'm just saying that there are some extremely competitive team programs that use this method of coaching.
I would be keeping a very close eye. These things are not and should not be normal in any sport.

You know i guess that i cant really add anything new to this, aside from pointing out what might seem the obvious.
You are in the right. The coach sounds way over the top, and is actually physical abusive. I mean your child came to you bruised!! by a coach who uses to much force. In previous years I have worked and seen coaches like this and it has never been a pretty site. Often parents complain but coach stays simply because
a- Its hard to find another coach
b- She knows the staff and has been there for a while or whatever and owners are used to her method
c- She produces results.

If i were you aside from all the complaining and all that i would look at moving my kid to a different gym. I know its Taboo but what gym is this, people should be made aware and coaches who show ignorance and who are potentially dangerous should be made public. This is a real touchy subject for me, because i dont believe there is a place for any kind of physical abuse including poking. Yelling is a diffent matter, I can understand the yelling, as matter of fact mean coaches actually have been show to produce better results (i can cite source if anyone wants it). However at what expence? I dont know.
The yelling as long as its controled and aimed right, and its none abusive i think has a due place in the coaches arsenal of coaching techniques.
At the end though i want my gymnast to respect me not fear me.

Back to your situation, i think that you should talk to your daughter about this, and she how she feels about it all, and act accordingly.
Good luck with all this, and keep us posted on how it all works out

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