The Times West Virginian

Community News Network

November 1, 2013

Coaches grapple with line between discipline and abuse

(Continued)

Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman believes the topic demands a serious conversation - not just in her conference but nationwide and in all sports, from youth leagues to pro.

"As a coach, to find the right balance between 'kick-'em-in-the butt because they're dogging it today' and going too far is really hard," said Ackerman, who speaks from the perspective of a lawyer as well as a former CEO and a basketball standout at Virginia. "What's the tipping point? I don't think there is an easy answer here."

College coaches aren't the only ones wrestling with rapidly shifting boundaries when it comes to language and behavior. In many facets of society, what was once deemed acceptable is now banned outright or increasingly rejected as inappropriate.

Much of it boils down to common sense, in the view of college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, a member of Duke's 1986 NCAA runner-up team. "If you're an adult and you don't understand that homophobic or misogynistic terms are inappropriate and unacceptable in today's society," Bilas said bluntly, "then you're not very bright."

In coaching, Bilas believes the key distinction is "being demanding without being demeaning," borrowing a phrase from former NFL coach Tony Dungy.

"I never heard my high school coach curse, but he was demeaning," Bilas said. "My college coach [Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Mike Krzyzewski] cursed a lot, but he never was demeaning. He challenged us. He used some blue language. But he never was demeaning."

 Coaching styles vary. But the best coaches boast a full repertoire of tactics - personalities, even - to coax, cajole and demand the best from athletes. They know when to play the role of cheerleader, tyrant, nurturer or taskmaster. And they know which players respond to a verbal kick in the rear and who needs a comforting ear.

 To be effective in all those roles, they first must establish trust. And it troubles Marquette Coach Buzz Williams, who spews emotion like an open fireplug during the heat of games, that those who critique coaches don't see the time and energy invested in building that trust off the court.

"If the only time that you're dealing with your kids is when you're in practice, no matter your tone, no matter your words, if they don't trust you, it won't work," Williams said. "I think you have to be a relationship specialist."

Added St. John's Coach Steve Lavin: "Once that trust is established, and it's genuine and authentic, and players believe you have their best interest at heart, they allow you to teach, coach, motivate, inspire and discipline them."

Lavin spells out his expectations for players, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior - whether that's running sideline-to-sideline sprints, getting booted from practice, getting suspended or getting kicked off the team. Still, he admits there are times he flat-out "loses it" with his players in a way that would shame his own mother.

It's a lot like parenting, he added, or managing employees: Unrelenting screamers may get results for a while, but they lose their effectiveness if that's their only move.

That's the message of the Stanford-based Positive Coaching Alliance, which is supported by basketball coaches Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Larry Brown and Brad Stevens, among others."It's not good coaching," said Jim Thompson, its founder and chief executive. "You do not get the best out of players by grinding them down, by defeating them. You want to have high expectations for your players because people rise to expectations that are set for them. But you don't want to terrorize them."

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the ipad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads