Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Tackling bullying in your team

davidscwnewYouth  coaches need to look out for signs of bullying and be prepared to take quick, positive action to nip any problems in the bud. It’s our duty as the temporary guardian of children in our charge to know what bullying is, how to recognise it and how to prevent it, preferably before it happens.

What is bullying?

Bullying manifests itself in a variety of forms. It ranges from teasing and spreading rumours to pushing someone around and causing physical harm. It usually happens in front of other people. Name calling, mocking, kicking, taking or messing about with personal belongings, writing or drawing offensive graffiti, gossiping, excluding people from groups and threatening physical violence, are all forms of bullying. And don’t rule out cyber-bullying either – this is a growing form of bullying and equally hurtful for victims.

The effects of bullying

Screen shot 2016-08-18 at 11.51.03Bullying makes the lives of its victims miserable. It undermines their confidence and destroys their sense of security. It can cause sadness, loneliness, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, poor concentration and lead to self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, suicide. Bullying will certainly result in players leaving a club. And not just the ones who are being bullied. A football field where bullying is allowed is an unpleasant place for everyone, not just the victims.

Who are the bullies?

The bully can be any person. For example, a bully could be…

  • A parent who pushes too hard.
  • A coach who adopts a win-at-all-costs philosophy.
  • A player who intimidates other players or officials.
  • An official who places unfair pressure on a person.


How do you know if children on your team are being bullied?

There are several tell-tale signs of bullying and, as a coach, you are in a good position to spot them. If one or more of your players…

  • Suddenly decides they don’t want to take part in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Becomes anxious or lacking in confidence.
  • Appears distressed.
  • Has bruises, cuts or scratches, and gives improbable reasons for them.
  • Has possessions regularly damaged, lost or go missing.
  • Appears nervous of walking to or from training.
  • Appears frightened of a particular individual or group.
  • Becomes aggressive, disruptive or unreasonable.
  • Starts bullying other children.
  • Is frightened to say what’s wrong… …you should find out if they have become a victim of bullying.

What can you do about bullying?

Ensure your players know what bullying is and that it will not be tolerated. Tell them that it’s okay to complain if they are being badly treated by one of their team mates, or anyone else for that matter. And, just as important, they should tell you if they see someone else being bullied.

After all, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, and bullies can be very secretive. If you spot behaviour that can be classified as bullying, you should take prompt action but don’t dive in

Take the victim to one side (but not out of sight of everyone else) and ask the child to tell you about the incident. You then have to discuss the incident with the bullies and their parents. This will probably be difficult, but it has to be done. It will be a lot easier to talk about bullying with an ‘offender’ and parents if your club has an up-to-date and well communicated anti-bullying policy.


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