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Athletes’ Recollections of Inappropriate Behaviors by Their High School Sport Coaches

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... For our purposes, we elected not to include all the items because many are student-tostudent actions, for example, towel snapping, taking possessions (clothing, equipment, etc.), blame-placing, and gossiping. This inventory has been used in previous research (Strand et al. 2017, Strand 2021a. Demographic questions asked about gender, race/ethnicity, participation in high school sports, if they had dropped out of sports due to a coaches' behavior, if they were a college athlete, and if they were a physical education and/or coaching major or minor, and age. ...
... Do some coaches believe they have freedom for their actions because they are coaching, and what happens during practice stays within the bounds of the practice field? Coaches use lots of excuses to rationalize their actions including moral justification ("All coaches lose it now and then"), backhanded apology ("I'm sorry, I got carried away a little bit; but we really need the athletes to try harder if we're going to win"), it could have been worse comparison ("I didn't touch anybody, it's not like I push them around"), escalation of stakes ("If you can't take how I am doing things, get off the team"), mental toughness argument ("We are tough on our athletes so they can handle the competitionwe build mental toughness"), and secrecy and building team culture ("we'll handle this stuff in our family") (Swigonski et al. 2014, Strand et al. 2017. ...
... A major challenge in coaching is to think critically about the distinctions between behaviors designed to instruct and motivate, behaviors that are teasing or engaging, and behaviors that cross a line into being hurtful or harassing toward a young person (Strand et al. 2017). One coach said, "There is a fine line sometimes in disciplining your team and challenging your team to get to another level. ...
Article
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Coaches have a profound and long-lasting impact on the athletes they coach. Coaches’ behavior affects athlete anxiety, stress levels, burnout, and eventually, their mental health. This study aimed at gathering relevant information on coaches’ use of inappropriate behaviors towards athletes as reported by athletes and to make comparisons between the responses of the athletes in this study with those of coaches in a previous study. Participants were 251 college students from ten midwestern states who completed a 25-item survey that included a listing of coaching actions described as bullying. Three specific research questions guided the study: 1) has your coach ever done the identified action to you, 2) do you think this is an inappropriate coaching action, and 3) do you consider this bullying. Results indicate that athletes and coaches’ interpretation of the frequency of inappropriate actions, if the actions are considered inappropriate, and if the actions are considered bullying are markedly different. Athletes were more likely to report that the various physical, relational, and verbal actions occurred than were coaches. Keywords: coaching, bullying, athletes, inappropriate
... For our purposes, we elected not to include all the items because many are student-tostudent actions, for example, towel snapping, taking possessions (clothing, equipment, etc.), blame-placing, and gossiping. This inventory has been used in previous research (Strand et al. 2017). Demographic questions asked about gender, years of coaching experience, age, highest degree or level of school completed, racial background, if they were a k-12 teacher in addition to coaching, and the state in which they coached. ...
... Previous work on inappropriate coaching indicates great differences in the reporting of actions having been done by coaches, as reported by athletes (Strand et al. 2017). Using the same 22 actions as listed in this study, Strand et al. surveyed 920 college students on their perceptions of actions by their former coaches. ...
... Is it perhaps that some coaches believe they have immunity for their actions because they are simply coaching and what happens during practice stays within the bounds of the practice field? As reported in Strand et al. (2017), coaches use any number of excuses to rationalize their actions including moral justification, backhanded apology, it could have been worse comparison, escalation of stakes, mental toughness argument, secrecy and building team culture. ...
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The use of inappropriate coaching behaviors has been an ongoing concern for many years. However, not yet well researched is the use of inappropriate and bullying behaviors by coaches toward student-athletes. The purpose of this study was aimed at gathering relevant information on coaches' use of inappropriate behaviors towards athletes, as reported by coaches. Participants for this study included 488 public/private school sport coaches, males (N=332) and females (N=153), from eight states. Data were gathered via an on-line survey in which participants identified if they had engaged in any of 22 listed actions among three types of bullying (physical, relational, verbal). Participants identified three actions ('poking fun at an athlete', 'embarrassed an athlete in front of others', and 'name calling without hurtful intent') as having been done by at least 30% of them. In summary, most actions were reported to have not been used by most coaches, three-fourths of the actions were considered inappropriate, and less than half were considered bullying.
... Researchers have examined what may be considered inappropriate coaching behaviors (Alexander et al., 2011;Shields et al., 2005;Strand et al., 2017a). This study included a list of inappropriate actions, taken from the literature regarding coach bullying, and used in previous research by Strand et al. ...
Article
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The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of former youth sport athletes about their youth sport experience and their relationship with their coaches. Participants included 269 college students from 12 states who participated in youth sports in various sized cities and communities. Participants completed a 14-item survey (6 forced-response and 8 open-ended). Results are presented by listing the top themes that emerged in regards to positive and negative experiences during youth sports and with youth sport coaches.
... Mo'ne Davis • Strand et al. (2018) surveyed 920 undergraduate students (half female, half male) who had participated in high school sports to determine bullying behaviors by their coach to which they were subjected and those directed toward other athletes. ...
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Girls and Women shines a light on the current landscape for girls and women in sport reflected in the latest data from nearly 500 research reports and results from a new national survey of more than 2,300 women working in women's sport. Taking stock of where we are in achieving gender equity in sport requires study, transparency and candor. This groundbreaking report brings together the latest facts and milestones and elevates the voices of women offering fresh insight and perspective. Importantly the report includes calls to action to help propel momentum for change. Stakeholders in all areas of sport, from grassroots to high school, college and elite athletics, collegiate administrators, coaches, policymakers, leaders in the corporate and media sectors all have a critical role to play. The WSF is committed to keeping these conversations at the forefront and working collaboratively with others to accelerate the pace of change. Continued progress depends on comprehensive, up-to-date information in real time. Only when we operate from a shared understanding of the landscape can we ensure thoughtful conversation and sound decision-making necessary for progress. From playing fields to board rooms, girls and women continue to live out their passion for sport. As these accomplishments are celebrated, let's continue to examine the gaps and opportunities to ensure that all girls and all women can get in the game. Only then will we be able to realize the full potential unleashed by sport. All girls. All women. All sports.
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