What is considered to be emotionally or verbally abusive coach behavior towards athletes?

A: Coaches and athletes constantly engage in verbal interactions. It is the coach’s responsibility to use such interactions for instructional and motivational purposes.  Emotional or verbal abuse of athletes should be expressly prohibited.

Emotional or verbal abuse of athletes can take many forms such as: (1) when a coach excessively, in comparison to treatment of other athletes, singles out an athlete through negative interactions; (2) when a coach routinely uses profanity or degrading language; (3) when a coach personalizes error correction; (4) when a coach devalues a player’s role on the team, potential for success, or value as a person; (5) when a coach constantly blames the team or groups of players for failures; and (6) when a coach isolates a player by ignoring him or her. Coaches must make every effort to avoid such conduct. Coaches should immediately call a halt to any bullying or emotional verbal abuse undertaken by any athlete toward another while in the coach’s presence. Coaches should refrain from and disallow their athletes from engaging in verbal discourse that denigrates others.

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