Sometimes it can be hard for a good coach to balance discipline and empathy, especially when dealing with young athletes.
Recently, a high school coach took to Reddit to ask whether he was in the wrong for sending an athlete for missing warm-up. Here’s the full story.
A Track Team Coach
The Original Poster (OP) is a high school track team coach who has a daily training routine that includes 15 minutes of group stretching followed by 15 to 30 minutes of physical warm-up before any workouts and drills.
All of OP’s players are between the ages of 12 and 16 and have varied levels of talent and enthusiasm for the sports they are learning.
Recently, OP felt bad sending one of his athletes home after suspending him for the day for skipping warm-up and group stretching.
He Sent Home an Athlete for Not Committing
OP says that this athlete arrived on the field at the right time with the rest of the group, but declined to stretch as a group, and then started doing the stretches so slowly that he completely skipped the warm-up activities that day.
However, the “reasons” he heard for missing the warm-up were bad. The athlete said that his shoelaces had a knot in them and that his knees were aching.
OP is strict, but he’s also an understanding coach, and he addressed him directly, “Can you participate in today’s practice, and what is really going on?”
He Called Him Out
But he only got a similar response and a blank glare that sidestepped his eyes.
OP mentioned that this isn’t the first time this athlete and the coaches had disagreements.
They had talked over a variety of topics, including a complete lack of effort during practice, missing the warm-up totally, and even a prank where the athlete and his friend played soccer alone in the middle of the training field while other athletes tried to train.
OP mentioned that it is well known this athlete does not care about the sport and just goes since his grandmother insists on him.
A Bad Attitude
OP went on to mention that the athlete belongs to a marginalized group, and he is worried that there is a high danger of the athlete getting into trouble or joining a gang.
The athlete usually responds with boredom despite OP’s and past coaches’ efforts to inspire, motivate, and offer a safe environment for all athletes.
OP is seeking validation from the Reddit community, asking if he was wrong for sending the athlete home.
He Was Looking for Support
The Reddit community shared their concerns in many comments.
One Redditor said that this kid needs to realize he has choices in life, that nothing in life is free, and that he has to earn things. The comment read “Doesn’t matter what his upbringing was or what type of area he grew up in. All that matters is he is blowing an opportunity right now.
I grew up in a horrible area. Kids with the exact same options and chances as me ended up in gangs and always tried to claim “they had no choice.”
Just Sit Him Out?
Another Reddit user said that maybe next time just sit him if he sticks around for practice but doesn’t participate. The Reddit user went on to say that they know it runs the risk of sort of encouraging his disinterest, but it also maintains the benefit of giving the kid a safe area to be, and if he starts to be a distraction to the other athletes, the OP can probably find a way to just put him to work.
Many other Redditors voiced their support for the OP, saying that he was not wrong and that they would’ve done the same thing.
In this situation, it’s important to realize that warm-up and stretching routines are vital for preventing injury and preparing the athletes for the actual training. It is not unreasonable to expect all athletes to participate fully in these exercises.
A Clear Message
By suspending the athlete for the day, the coach is sending a clear message that there are consequences for not following the rules.
On the other hand, the coach’s decision could be seen as harsh and lacking empathy.
So, what do you think about this situation? Did the coach do the right thing?
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / pathdoc. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.