YOU SUCK! A Call To Coaches of Young Athletes


Some of those girls you coach are babies. Be careful how you conduct yourself.


If you are a coach of a young student-athlete, you need to listen up.

First off, this is not an article to bash anyone. I have completely and whole-heartedly made peace with all of my athletic experiences. I had some tough times as a young athlete, but nothing that I would consider permanently damaging to me and I also had a supportive family and some really great friends. I didn’t just survive sports, I thrived and I am a thousand percent positive that they made me a better person.

Volleyball gave me an outlet.

Volleyball gave me something positive and rewarding to focus on.

I loved it so much and still do that I’m still talking about it today.

But, if we know better then we should do better.

Coaches, listen up.

Because what you say matters. A lot.

Even the little stuff, the stuff you don’t think we hear. The stuff you think you are just saying to other parents or the jokes you think we don’t understand. We hear everything and we understand every joke whether it is appropriate or not.

From the ripe old age of nine, I fell in love with the sport of volleyball. I’ve told my “story” a hundred times but basically I was the small one, the one who didn’t move well, the one who was younger than everyone else and the one who had a slight attitude problem. I was the kid that all the coaches would look at and think “there is so much to fix over there that I am going to focus on the bigger, stronger players with potential and just pretend I don’t see that small one over there.”

Maybe they thought I would eventually quit, but I didn’t.

I just kept coming back. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. All the way up to when I graduated high school at sixteen.

And, the thing is from ages nine to sixteen, there’s just a lot going on. Developmentally, physically, emotionally, hormonally.


Developmentally, their bodies are changing, growing and beginning to feel the stress of the long hours of training, school studies and likely lack of adequate sleep. They are most likely not eating what they should be eating nor are they allowing their bodies to properly recover from the physical load they are putting their bodies through multiple times a week. Emotionally, they are dealing with peer pressure, body image issues, stress in the home (i.e. parental stress, sibling stress, financial stress, etc…), stress at school, mean girls, anxiety, depression, eating issues, pressure to perform in sports, school, etc.

This time is a crucible for a young girl who is essentially forming the basis for her sense of self.

Here’s where coaches come into play. That’s you.

I’m not saying that it is your sole responsibility to build ego-strength in your student athletes (so much more goes into that), what I am saying is your responsibility is to coach them in the sport of volleyball. That’s it.

This means that you keep your opinions to yourself about their bodies. You keep your mouth shut about what they look like or their ethnicity. You keep yourself from saying inappropriate things about young women or talking about the hottest girl at your place of work.

You don’t tell them they are pretty or ugly or that their shorts fit them well or not so well. You don’t take them for rides in your car. You don’t invite them to parties. (I didn’t just pull these things out of a hat. I either overheard or was directly spoken to about these things; and people, there are way more sinister things than this happening in youth sports I can guarantee you that much).

You coach volleyball.

You do not comment on how lazy they are or how much they suck.

You don’t tell them they suck.

Do you know how many times I heard “YOU SUCK” from the time I was nine years old until I graduated high school?

One time too many.

You cannot tell players they suck.

You cannot tell players they suck.

You cannot tell players they suck.

Did you get that one?

You can coach volleyball.

You can set the most amazing example to young female athletes by holding yourself to a standard that not only honors them, but it honors you, your friends and family and this sport.

Yeah, yeah it’s hard work and good coaches push their players. But if you want to coach young women, you need to get it together. There are so many young athletes and families that depend on you to coach your sport. They pay you money to develop their skills in volleyball.

Coach your sport and shut up about everything else.

(Cue “Shake It Off” because I know y’all are gonna be hating this one.)

“I’m dancing on my own…I make the moves up as I go…”

Maybe tomorrow I’ll talk about what you can say.


Categories: Life Lessons Through Sports, Volleyball Life

Tags: , ,

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