The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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
  • 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

  • When your doctor commits suicide, things get complicated

    When they call for appointments, patients are told they can't see their doctor. Ever. The standard line: "We are sorry, but your doctor died suddenly."

    July 15, 2014

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

     I climbed the ladder quickly, free to work any hours in any location for any pay. I moved from market to market, always achieving a better title, a better salary. Succeeding.

    July 8, 2014

  • Nation's first soda tax could come to Berkeley

    The Berkeley City Council unanimously decided last week to put the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the ballot this November. Approving the tax would mean a major defeat for the soda industry, which has spent millions to crush the effort nationwide.

    July 7, 2014

  • President Barack Obama mug Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

    The questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless. What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • What states can do on their own about immigration

    It's official: Congress won't take up immigration reform this year. This week, President Barack Obama said he'll use executive actions to change policies unilaterally.

    July 1, 2014

  • The Internet has changed how we curse

    Relatively recent technologies — cable television, satellite radio, and social media — provide us with a not-too-unrealistic picture of how often people swear in public and what they say when they do.

    June 24, 2014

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 18, 2014

  • facebook.png Facebook making big changes to its advertisements

    Facebook is making significant changes to the advertisements on its network, and said Thursday that it will give users more control over which ads they see on its network.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

What are your plans for the weekend?

Enjoying the outdoors
Staying in out of the heat
Traveling
Other
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.