Abusive Coaches

ABUSIVE COACHES: Do Private Coaches Help – or Hurt – the Development of Young Athletes?

There was a fascinating article in USA Today a couple of weeks ago in which top college quarterbacks were featured using private outside coaches to aid them in their development. Of course, these “private coaches” were charging for their services, anywhere from $100 an hour and up. And it was the kid’s parents (not the college football program) who paid the bill.

Some of the college coaches were okay with these outside coaches, but most of them did want to make sure that they were kept apprised of all developments. On the other hand, many other college coaches made it clear that they disapproved of these outside “experts” even though many of the college kids used them.

On this morning’s show, I heard from a number of callers who felt that this cottage industry of outside coaches was an issue that was still unsettled. For example, a couple of callers argued that this practice was parallel to parents hiring tutors for their kids who were having trouble with math or English. “What’s the difference?” the callers asked, “The parents will spend money to help their child do better in school. Nobody complains about that.”

Other callers felt that hiring outside private coaches puts the kid in an awkward spot. Suppose the private coach shows him how to change his pitching mechanics, but his HS varsity coach doesn’t want him to do anything different. Who does the kid listen to?

Another caller noted that some HS coaches try to cash in on the entrepreneurial market by telling their varsity players that if they want to improve their game, then they need to attend the coach’s summer camp. Of course, the coach charges money for the kids to attend this “voluntary” camp. As the caller suggested, this is tantamount to extortion.

Some school districts already have policies in place that prohibits coaches from doing this kind of summer camp or outside coaching activity. But in truth, there are all sorts of ways to get around these restrictions. Besides, sports parents are always looking for that edge to help their youngster get ahead, even if it costs a little more dough.

Amazing….just amazing.

  • Whether a student athletes plays the sport or sports he or she enjoys outside of their high school season or hires a private coach for lessons to improve their abilities….the same issue applies regarding different techniques used.

    Yes….this can and does cause issues….but it is part of the growing process to understand that there are different ways to accomplish technical improvements in their “game”…no one way fits ALL.

    The only problems I see with hiring outside help centers on two things:

    1. That the desire to do so comes from the athlete themselves without pressure from parents, coaches, etc. It is one thing to suggest it as an option or possibility if said athlete might have interest….it is another to put pressure on them to do so.

    2. That the outside coach, or program, one is seeking “help” from has the qualifications to do so. One stop shop, weekend only coaching is likely not very conducive to long term real improvement.

    Again….it is the athlete’s interest that should be the underlying reasoning behind seeking such outside help….to me….it is essential.

    Kirk Mango
    Author: “Becoming a True Champion”

  • Joe Frederick

    The situation is complicated and unfortunately, the issues go beyond proper mechanics and desires as to who’s initiating the use of an outside coach. As parents, we will always have an interest in our child’s development. Sadly, too many parents are more interested in their child’s athletic development than academic development.

    With high school athletes, my observation is that most high school coaches are more concerned about the team’s performance than individual athlete development, and that’s understandable. They may not see it that way and that’s not a criticism or an indictment as most of the programs in my area don’t have deep coaching resources to give that level of attention to individual athletes and the reality is that job security is based on wins, not on individual awards.

    But the process and philosophy are disjointed. Most high school coaches tell parents at orientation meetings “You can’t come to me and ask me why your child isn’t playing. We talk to the athletes directly and they know.” In other words, “butt out.”

    Most Varsity Coaches are also teachers, so do they take that same approach in the classroom….”your child isn’t performing academically, but we’re not going to tell you about It directly”? I think a teacher would get reprimanded if a student wasn’t performing and failed to engage the parent. In fact, it’s actually mandated that they do through progress reports. So why should athletics be different?

    Think about it though. Same teacher/coach, same student athlete, but different venues with different philosophy’s. Why? If you’re the parent of that child that’s not performing athletically to the level that you as their parent feel they should, or to the level that the coach feels with limited or no playing time, what are you supposed to do? You can’t talk to the coach and take a unified approach to getting the player the help in area’s that they’re deficient in, so what other options do you have? This is part of what drives people to outside coaches.