Some coaches (and parents) directly or indirectly use guilt, harsh criticism and threats as a way to “motivate or inspire” their child or player to perform better. I still have nightmares about my son’s first game under a new coach in U14’s, where after the game the coach rated every player out of ten in front of everyone. It was humiliating, dis-empowering and a shocking display for all involved. It was literally like, “that was a f#@*ing 3 out of 10 for you”. I was gobsmacked by the way this was handled, and I knew in my heart that at that moment, at game one, his team lost respect for him, lost confidence in themselves and then grew in fear of further attacks.
Performance studies clearly indicate that while threats and harsh criticism may provide short term results, the long term costs in terms of mental health and performance are extremely negative. Using fear as a motivator is probably one of the worst dynamics you could set up with your child or player. Threats take the fun and the desire to play out of performance and competition, and directly lead to your child or player performing worse, not better.
Guilt, harsh criticism and threats communicate a strong message of lack of belief, and is shattering to the child’s performance, confidence and desire to try harder. We need to challenge our players (and children) because a positive challenge holds onto the empowering belief that, “I believe you can do it”.
“All a kid needs is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them”, Magic Johnson.