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(As a Coach) 5 Ways To Deal With Bullying

Team sports are highly competitive activities that can occasionally lead to bullying, but it’s your responsibility as a coach to prevent or put a stop to this kind of behavior before it leads to major problems. Parents who are coaches have ultimate authority on the practice and game field, so you have the power to shape the social dynamics of your team no matter how much potential conflict is brewing beneath the surface. Here are five effective ways you can deal with bullying:

 

  1. Communicate Openly with Parents

 

Bullying doesn’t always originate on the field. Pressures at home, school, or other areas where other parents have more knowledge than you can cause conflicts between teammates. By communicating with the other parents, it’s possible to get to the root of a problem with one or more players and come up with a solution. Open communication will present numerous opportunities for dealing with the problem off the field.

 

  1. Include All Players in Team Drills and Activities

 

One of the most common forms of sports bullying occurs when a player is isolated. Even if skill has nothing to do with this isolation, players may start bullying the singled out individual in belief that they are inferior to the rest of the team. Isolation is also a problem because, as a parent and coach, you’re tacitly giving permission to the team to treat the singled-out player differently. By including every player in all the drills and activities, you can avoid this situation.

 

  1. Work Together with Your Coaching Staff

 

It’s difficult for a single coach to observe all the social dynamics of a team by themselves, so use your assistant coaches as resources when dealing with a bullying problem. Your coaches can provide insights and advice that may lead to solutions you might not have thought of yourself, and your assistants can react to problems you’ve pointed out if you’re not immediately available when they feel empowered to do so.

 

  1. Learn about Your Players

 

The more background you learn about your players, such as what schools they go to and their social standing among their teammates, the more you may be able to prevent bullying on the field. It can’t hurt to speak with your players one-on-one to learn what they’re personality is like and how they feel about the other players on the team. Social dynamics between players can be complicated, but knowing a bit more about each individual can help you recognize patterns that both cause and prevent bullying.

 

  1. Hold Players Accountable for Bullying

 

Once you establish that bullying isn’t acceptable on your team, you need to make sure to hold players accountable if they’re caught breaking this rule. If there are no consequences to their actions, the bully isn’t likely to stop their bad behavior. You can start by denying playing time to a player who bullies, but it may be necessary to expel a player from the team altogether if their behavior doesn’t stop. Don’t let outside pressure from the parents of bullies prevent you from doing what’s best for the team.

 

Jessica Kane is a writer for SteelLocker Sports. A leading provider of sporting goods and training programs for coaches, players, parents and institutions with a primary focus on youth sports.

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