Written by Gracie Ostertag
Sports can bring many positive experiences to an athlete’s life but it’s important to acknowledge negative experiences that may happen. Every athlete is at risk for experiencing emotional abuse and it can be present in a variety of forms. The aggressors can be various people including: caregivers, parents, other adults, family members, and even teammates.
Here are some experiences athletes may encounter throughout their sports careers or potential scenarios to keep an eye out for:
- Exclusion from groups, team activities or entirely ignored
- Torment involving repetitive criticism or sarcasm
- Held to both high and unrealistic expectations
- Personal value and worth are felt dependent on sport successes
- Encouragement to target players on opposing teams
- Pressure to play when injured
Being emotionally abused can make athletes feel worthless and strip enjoyment away from sport, resulting in loss of love for the game once loved.
Here are six ways administration and coaching staff members can prevent emotional abuse in youth sport:
- Provide positive feedback to help encourage the athlete to improve his or her game performance
- Provide educational opportunities for coaches to ensure the program/organization has the same cultural values, mission and vision
- Be the coach you looked up too or the coach you’d want as an athlete
- Respect each athlete with their unique characteristics and differences
- Take note of cliques forming, and ensure each athlete is acknowledged and included in team activities, regardless of skill level and role on the team
- Stress the significance of self-improvement, teamwork, sportsmanship and having fun while playing hard
An estimated 25%-75% of competitive young athletes have experienced emotionally abusive coaching practices, with an increase as athletes advance into higher levels of competition. Player’s Health wants to provide these preventative tips of emotional abuse as skill, competition, and the number of athletes grow each passing year. We want the fun to remain in sport while ensuring administration and coaches know what to spot and how to prevent emotional abuse.
ICYMI: Player’s Health has created a unique abuse prevention training course made up of short videos on various topics for sports organizations to properly educate coaches, parents, guardians, and athletes.
Motivational speaker and former college football player John Guydon, a child abuse interview expert, and a sexual assault survivor speak on the importance of abuse prevention to empower the audience to make a difference in every sports organization. This course features topics ranging from grooming and how to respond to incidents of abuse, to situations like hazing and cyberbullying.
If you are interested in adopting this training for your sports organization, please reach out to our team at [email protected] or (612) 217-8701.