By: Sarah H.
In our youth development class, we have discussed the topic of the relationships between coaches and players from both the female and male sports teams. Another blogger discussed parent-coach/child-athlete relationship. My post is solely related to what I have been involved in/witnessed at either the high school level or below, and is mostly focused on the female athlete teams.
I know most people say that girls want to sometimes label their coaches as “friends”, so compared to males, we seem to look for a stronger connection to our coaches. In my opinion I agree with this completely. Being on 3 sports teams throughout high school, I can honestly say that all of my coaches were my friends and that we looked for that connection. That being said, the coaches were also teachers and males, which put a target on their back and it made it so they had to be extra careful of how they treated us.
Along that topic, if the coaches are going to be friends with their players, they have to know where to draw the line before it leads to something more. There was a study done to focus on the interpersonal relations between coaches and athletes and if and where boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable coach behavior could be drawn (Toftegaard, 2001). I know I may be writing as though nothing has gone wrong in coach-athlete relationships or as though athletes have not been put in uncomfortable situations, but like Toftegaard (2001) stated, hands-on instruction or touching the athlete’s body in general may be inappropriate if the athlete feels uneasy about the coach or other reasons. I have witnessed situations where one of my coaches doing hands-on examples, and the player wasn’t comfortable with the way he was touching her, so it created a very negative relationship between them and set off a negative vibe towards the team itself. I completely believe that if the coach is going to be using hands-on examples, he/she should have knowledge about what is right or wrong. This could also be the case with a male sports team with a female coach.
I can’t fully say that guys do not want a good relationship with their coaches because there are surely some who have that connection. In my experience though, male athletes are more focused solely on the competition and are not looking for friends until after the sport is over. But, a lot of the guys in my school disliked a certain teacher/coach because he got along great with all the females and we all “loved” him as a teacher and coach. Its almost like they were jealous of the relationships that were being built. I guess some guys just didn’t understand why anyone would want a teacher/coach to be labeled as a “friend”, which I can understand!
I have also witnessed that male coaches also connect better with their female athletes rather then guys. One of my coaches was also a men’s hockey team coach. At the end of our season, as everyone came to tears, our coach did as well. He had a strong connection with all of us. When his hockey season came to an end, it was just like it was another day; no sadness was involved. I know most people might just say that its because guys aren’t as emotional, but he even told us himself that he just didn’t have the same connection with the guys as he did with us. The female team was like a family.
I think that when kids are younger, no matter what gender, that they should be able to have a good relationship with their coaches. I think it should stay away from the more “personal” relationship like we discussed in class; staying away from being friends on social media, etc. But the kids should also be able to talk to their coaches and know that there is someone other than their parents who they can open up to; a positive role model.
I know there are many ways to look at this topic. Whether coaches should have a relationship with their players as “friends”, or just to stay the coach. I am also sure this would be different from a guy’s point of view!
Toftegaard, N. J. (January 01, 2001). The Forbidden Zone: Intimacy, Sexual Relations and Misconduct in the Relationship between Coaches and Athletes. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 36, 2, 165-182.
Choi, H., Huh, J., & Cho, S. (October 25, 2013). The association between the perceived coach-athlete relationship and athletes’ basic psychological needs. Social Behavior and Personality, 41, 9, 1547-1556.
Lorimer, R., & Jowett, S. (May 01, 2010). The influence of role and gender in the empathic accuracy of coaches and athletes. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 11, 3, 206-211.
Olympiou, A., Jowett, S., & Duda, J. L. (December 01, 2008). The Psychological Interface Between the Coach-Created Motivational Climate and the Coach-Athlete Relationship in Team Sports. Sport Psychologist, 22, 4.)