The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

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
  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

E-edition
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
NDN Video
Battle of the Butts at the 2014 MTV VMAs! Four-Year-Old Reviews Exclusive Restaurant's $295 Fixed Price Menu Mariah Orders Nick Cannon to Stay Quiet About Divorce Details U.S. Military Strategy Against ISIS The London Zoo holds its annual animal weigh-in VIDEO: Goliath Grouper eats shark in one bite Rapper Almost Walks Off CNN Over Ferguson Coverage 2 American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital Whoa! Jimmy Fallon Shaves Jared Leto's Beard US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Amazing Encounter With Sea Otter Caught on Video Motorcyclist Sticks Landing Sicilian hilltop homes on sale for one euro Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Joel McHale Interviews Chelsea This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World Watch Helicopter Perform Aerial Ballet
Must Read