Friday, June 4, 2010

"No Yelling on the Bus!"

If you are familiar with the movie Billy Madison then you recognize the photo on the left of Chris Farley, the bus driver that is fed up with his job and takes out his anger on the children on the bus!  Even though his role in the movie is hilarious, this character seems to be a more constant figure in the lives of our children.  Especially in the realm of sports and fitness.

Lately, I have witnessed many situations in sport where kids are being shouted out by their coach, or even more sad by their parents, for failing to live up to their demands. For instance, making a mistake within a competition, not performing a drill correctly or not paying attention and talking when the coach is talking. All of these things have merited a proper tongue lashing.  But what point are we trying to get across to our children by yelling at them.  Are we trying to frighten them into compliance?  Does yelling really send the right signals to a child?  NO. My belief is that it clearly does not have a positive effect.

By building up the confidence of our children through inspiration and encouragement we give them the tools, (to steal a line from Dave Schmitz a.k.a. the Band Man,) to "make their best better."  This is a more positive way to approach a child not just in athletics but in all areas of their lives.  If a mistake is made in a drill or during a match then perhaps the coach should look to themselves first and see how they could have done better in preparing the child to avoid the mistake.  Sometimes coaches throw a whole lot of drills at a child and show it to them once or twice, yet expect the child to perform the drill perfectly without having taught them the base skills to ensure their success in the drill.  By improving our coaching/teaching skills we directly improve our students/athletes skills.

We also need to get past the "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" mentality and teach our kids that having fun and putting forth a great effort rates higher than getting a trophy.

A child interprets incessant yelling as pure negativity and eventually it won't have the scare tactic effect on them anymore. But what it will do is possibly fill them with anger, resentment and a host of other negative feelings toward that person who constantly berates them.  As an adult how effectively would you do your job if your boss was constantly yelling at you when you messed up.  Is that an effective way to communicate?  Wouldn't you respond better to some constructive criticism and be more inspired to learn from your mistake and do better next time.  This is the same approach we need to have when teaching children and adolescents anything new, especially sports.  By creating an atmosphere where kids feel safe, i.e. not threatened by a dominating adult figure, and where they know that you have their best interests at heart, you have already been successful in opening up the proper channels to let effective learning blossom.

I just wanted to end this post today with a great quote I read from Angie Sage:

"...yelling doesn't make a thing any more possible."

FITfully Yours,

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