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Verbal Abuse or Blunt Motivational Speaking

Due to the spotlight Mike Rice brought to Rutgers coaches and abuse, there is an influx of news outlets that actually carried the news of Rutgers Lacrosse coach Brian Brecht being investigated for “verbal abuse”.  It is a story that otherwise might have been relegated to local and lacrosse sites.  With all of the coverage comes alot of debate and mudslinging from internet trolls, and forum users.

What is acceptable from a coach, and what is not.

Different age levels have different thresholds.  Younger players obviously have a lower threshold not only due to their young ears, but also they are still learning the game, and are still unsure if they really want to play the sport.  Also because different ages respond differently.   The focus of this article will be on the HS and college age years.

Lets face it.  Coaches yell.  Coaches swear.

Look at the audience they are trying to get through to.  Young men (late teens/early 20s) swear.  Its a cycle we go through whether it is part of the rebellion stage or something else.  That is a big part of how we communicate even with friends.    Young men can be absent minded, not have 100% focus, a little lazy, and arrogant.

For example, let’s say I missed a slide (NEVER happened ;-) ).
a) Coach in a mentoring voice, “Stegs. You missed the second slide. Pay attention next time, I know you can do it”.  To which my response would be OK, and I may or may not think about what he said past the 2 seconds it took me to respond OK.

b) Coach in a dissapointed voice, “C’mon Stegs, you missed the second slide. I need you focus and not let that happen again. ” To which my enthusiasm would probably be deflated and I’d be thinking more about the last missed opportunity than on correcting what I am doing.

c) Coach yelling, “Hey Stegs! Get your head out of your A$$ and make that slide!”  To which usually elicited a refocusing almost like an alarm clock going on in my brain waking me back to game mode.

Come to think of it, I think when combined individual and team “direction”, the most frequent yelling I heard was to get our collective heads out of our collective a$$es.
Maybe I was lucky in the fact I never had a coach be “abusive”, called a-holes/called retarded/ethnic terms/ etc. Most coaches didn’t yell all the time either, and it reinforced that when they did, you really better take heed to what they were saying.  I think the only things that someone in TODAY’s time would question would be the comments like C’mon ladies, or take off your skirts and play.  These were either an assistant coach or summer league team and directed at our defense to play more physical.  I did not have a problem with the comments then, and I don’t have a problem with it now.  Fact is women’s lacrosse there is no hitting, so the previous comment literally can be taken at face value because he wanted more physical play which is not to play like women because they do not hit.

I have seen coaches that yell more and are looser in their vocabulary…but again looking at their audience, they inspire and motivate their teams.  Although like my coaches, even the fiercest ones know there is a line not to cross.

I also have heard more abusiveness from teachers and professors in my time than coaches.  Why?  Educators get just as frustrated, but are less equipped at turning frustration into motivation, and thus lash out.
There was an English teacher in High School that told a girl to do us a favor and jump out the window (of a second story room).  He wasn’t serious, but a snarky miserable man.  Then there was a professor at college that told students they weren’t as smart as the lab rats, another had no redeeming qualities and was going to hell.

Where do you draw the line?  Have you had any “colorful” coaches?  Have any funny lines by a coach?
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