Identifying coaching abuses in youth sport

Kim Dorsch, University of Regina, Canada

Theme: Coaching/leadership

Program ID: LEC-14B

Presentation: October 5, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Elmwood


Research indicates that the culture of sport tends to promote an idealized perception of the benefits of participation for youth. The belief that sport is a moral oasis (Brackenridge, 2006) has had a serious negative impact on our understanding of the harm caused by coaching abuse in youth sports. In particular, there is a lack of data regarding these behaviours (David, 2005; UNICEF, 2010) despite the general acknowledgement that coaches wield considerable influence that extends beyond the playing field. Without such information it is extremely difficult to develop and enforce policies that protect the rights of children who engage in sport. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to classify observations of unacceptable coaching behaviors, which in turn will provide information necessary to develop policy statements intended to guide the conduct of coaches. Three different raters collectively identified 256 behaviours from 164 officials’ comments in three different sports (hockey, baseball, and basketball). The behaviours were then deductively analyzed and categorized using the Typology of Coaching Transgressions (TOCT) model (Raakman, Dorsch & Rhind, 2010). Similar to the TOCT model development, 77% of all harmful coaching behaviours are indirect in nature (i.e., in the presence children). Additionally, across all sports the psychological (38%) and modeling categories (27%) contain the greatest percentage of harmful behaviours. It is also important to note that the two contact sports contained the greatest number of direct abuses (i.e., targeted at the child). Previous to the development of the TOCT model, indirect abuses have generally gone unacknowledged in youth sport, some would say due to the normalization of these types of behaviours (Bolter, 2010; Gervis, 2010). The results indicate a desperate need to address these behaviours, to protect the rights of children, and to ensure that sport contributes positively to the psychosocial development of children.

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