Ok – a couple of things.
Second, watch this video of U.S. coaching icon Bobby Knight (currently a revered ESPN commentator) coaching up his men’s basketball team at half-time:
The showing of this video is how I introduced the topic of coaching to the 20 students of my ESS110: Introduction to Coaching course at Smith College. One of the main purposes of my course is to get students to learn how to critically reflect on their sport experiences – which may lead them to pursue coaching either full or part-time.
I showed the Bobby Knight video and asked my students the question: What do you think of Bobby’s coaching intervention. You would think that a group of females at America’s #1 Women’s College would express 100% displeasure with his coaching style – but read their comments here. You can see that while many disapprove, others condone the “tactical” use of swearing – mostly to manipulate arousal or activation.
After getting the students to express their “off the top of their head” opinion, I introduce the idea of the importance of developing a coaching philosophy and having a “Coaching Code of Conduct” in order to help guide them through the various ethical situations they will encounter in their coaching.
In fact, I point out that their coaching philosophy will impact almost every dimension of their coaching including technique: “Shall I change my athlete’s technique on Wednesday knowing their performance will drop (loss of automaticity) in Saturday’s match” – “or shall I not make the correction (hindering their future improvement)?”
I helped organize, present and moderate the WSF Coaching Conference at the 1998 Jr. Men’s World’s in Princeton (along with Bob Callahan & Gail Ramsay), and one of our coaching workshops was “Between Game Coaching”. We had the four coaches of the Individual Championship Semi-Finalists present what they said to their athletes between games (we gave the participant-coaches a chance to watch the video and then only 90 seconds to come up with their coaching advice). During the wrap-up one of the four coaches talked about how he spat a mouthful of water into his athlete’s face in order to wake him up and get his game back on track – acceptable or not?
Should a squash coach swear at or in the presence of their athletes? Not according to the Tottenham Hotspurs Ladies Footbal Club (see #12) – what does your Code of Ethics or Conduct say about the issue?
We will let Billy have the last word in his own defence:
Application for Squash Coaches:
- Adopt or develop a Coaching Code of Conduct to help guide your actions in ethical situations.
- Set aside some time to critically reflect on your coaching behaviors.
- The most famous coaches are not always the best role models (although swearing is not necessarily bad🙂