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Coaches Who Go Too Far...

Updated: Mar 17

Bullying is generally defined as a systematic abuse of power, in which a stronger individual exhibits a pattern of intimidating behavior against someone weaker or less powerful.

What happens when that person is a coach?

Manipulation. Verbal abuse. Coercion. Dangling relay positions based on favor not fastest times. Pitting teammates against each other. Retaliation or vindictive behavior. We have all heard the horror stories. They can be hard to believe but in some towns on some teams this is the norm.

Bullying happens everywhere, even to Olympians.

Advice For Parents

-Pay attention: observe practices, obtain reports of locker room behavior, and pay attention to a coach's behavior at games to gauge the negativity and prevalence of the behavior.

-Advocate for your child. Report bullying. Don't expect schools to be in your corner. Get a lawyer or report behavior to Child Protective Services if necessary. Most states have laws describing emotional abuse as injury to the emotional stability of a child as evidenced by an appreciable change in behavior, cognition, or emotional response. Bullying by a coach of an individual child should be reported immediately to school officials.

Bullying can create long-lasting effects

-Social and emotional impact such as struggling to maintain friendships, difficulty trusting people and withdraw from social interactions.

-Victims of bullying might suffer physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, and skin issues brought on by stress.

-Academics can suffer. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Virginia showed that kids who attend a school with a severe climate of bullying often have lower scores on standardized tests. Bullying even impacts students who witness it.


"USA Swimming is committed to providing a healthy and positive environment free from abuse for all its members. USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program, a comprehensive abuse prevention program, consists of a multi-layered approach to keep kids safe, including: required policies and best practice guidelines; mandatory screening, including criminal background checks and employment screening; training and education; monitoring, supervision and mandatory reporting. These measures are informed by experts in the field of child safety and are among the strongest safeguards found in youth-serving organizations." -USA Swimming

Who to go to for help?

  • To talk to someone now: Call 1-800-273-8255


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