The Damaging Effects of Coaches Quiet Quitting
Quiet quitting is nothing new for some youth sports coaches. Coaches have been doing this since I was a kid. But first things first. I want to make something clear. This article is NOT about volunteer coaches. I love and appreciate EVERYTHING you do, even when you fall short. I am so grateful and thankful you even show up. This article is NOT for all the good and great coaches out there, and believe me, there are so many of you and so many in my kids’ lives. I would go to the moon and back for all you’ve done and do for my kids. And even though you may not be perfect, your influence has made an incredible mark on my girls and hundreds of others, and I am deeply thankful for you. This article is also NOT for the new or green coaches who are just learning the ropes and finding their way. It takes time; it’s one of the toughest jobs on the planet. As sports parents, we know this and need to give you time to grow and develop.
No, this article is for the coaches who have been quiet quitting long before it was a thing. You know who you are. You coach because you didn’t know what else to do, not because it was your calling. You have quietly been taking our money, shuffling in and out of practices with no practice plan and no thought about how to help the kids on your team learn, improve, or, can you even imagine…inspire them to be better athletes and humans. Instead, you took this job because you thought it would be easy and maybe even fun at one point. But us sports parents have made it hard, downright unbearable in some cases. And the kids, well, even they annoy you now. But you don’t quit. You don’t walk away and find something else to do. You continue to earn your paycheck while doing as little as possible. Or even worse, if you are a volatile type, causing direct damage. You affect no positive change. You don’t touch lives, and you don’t call kids up. Instead, you yell, get angry and frustrated, and rob kids of all the good things they are supposed to gain from sports.
Quiet quitting in the workplace is a hot topic right now. It’s described as the trend where employees put in a minimal amount of effort just to get through the workday. Many think it’s part of a deeper issue that people aren’t feeling connected to their work and no longer feel the need to go above and beyond. So that’s all good if you have an office day job, where your lackluster performance might be costing the company bottom line a tad bit, or your clients aren’t happy, or maybe you’re not churning out reports as quickly as your office mate. But coaches who quiet quit, are doing much more damage, sometimes irreversible damage. And the real kicker? The company can fire you. We can’t. The customer can complain, and the client can ask you to be removed from their project. But as youth sports parents, there’s little we can do. Once in a while, a brave soul will complain, but most of us feel trapped because we are worried about how it will affect our son or daughter if we make a complaint. Will the screamer coach target them more often, or will the passive-aggressive coach limit their minutes on the court? Most of us don’t want to take that risk.
So we stay quiet.
We do nothing.
We put our precious angels at your mercy for hours, weeks, months, or even years.
Maybe if it’s a club team, we can move clubs. And become ‘those’ families that are always on the move. But if it’s a school team, we have very little choice but to endure. We tell ourselves that it’s worth it. Our kids are building character, having to navigate you and your temper, your moodiness, or your inability to inspire or help them improve. Our kids suffer, their sports suffer, and we get angrier and more disenchanted.
Can you think of any other situation where someone is paying hundreds or even thousands and thousands of dollars but has almost no say in the quality of the work?
There are few jobs on this planet as difficult as being a truly great coach. That’s why the really great ones and even the good ones are to be revered. Seriously, how many people can inspire, uplift, be tactical, organized, great communicators, have patience, be brave, intuitive, good with logistics, be psychologists, truly know the game inside and out, be strategists, visionaries, motivators, role models, be good with technology, be good at taking feedback and giving feedback, be a cheerleader, a disciplinarian, a leader?
SO MANY skills are needed to be a really good or great coach. So I get it. We all get it. That’s why, as youth sports parents, we need to keep expectations in check, and we need to offer assistance and support and help in areas where we can be useful. We need to stay mindful of the great responsibility and challenges you face. We aren’t expecting the next John Wooden, but we are expecting that it will be an overall positive experience for the kids. Not without struggle, hard work, and ups and downs. But if you only did these simple things, most of us would probably be okay:
- Teach our kids something about themselves and the game, so they can improve and grow.
- Be organized and thoughtful about the time you spend with them.
- Take time to recognize each kid on the team as having value and a role, and help them find their own unique way they can contribute.
- Treat the leading scorer the same as the bench warmers.
- Communicate. To the kids and to us.
- Above all else, remember that they are just kids and that you are tasked with an incredible opportunity and responsibility to make a positive difference in their lives.
For all you quiet quitters out there, those who have given up, who cause more damage than good, who’ve forgotten the importance and value of what a great coach does and is, then move on. This time, these kids, it’s too important. Either reassess and find something else to do or educate yourself and get reinvested in what it means to be a good coach. The kids deserve at least that much.
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Asia Mape is a 4-time Emmy Award-winning sports journalist and founder of Ilovetowatchyouplay.com, a digital platform that has served millions of parents and coaches as a guide and resource for raising healthy, happy, and successful athletes. Ilovetowatchyouplay.com has been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Today Show, Bleacher Report, Inc., NFL.com, and Sports Illustrated.
The mother of three daughters who play or played sports, and a former division 1 basketball player, Asia has dedicated the greater part of the last 14 years to her daughters’ various activities, a combination of club soccer, basketball, field hockey, volleyball, and water polo. She has schlepped her kids to some 7-8 practices a week and attended tournaments or games most weekends. Most of the time, she has loved it, but along the way, she often wondered whether there wasn’t a better way. This question was the genesis of I Love To Watch You Play. Linktree