Verbal Abuse in Team Sports Is Unhealthy

December 28, 2023 Cheryl Wozny

Verbal abuse can happen in team sports. Sports have existed for thousands of years, available to people of all cultures and ages. Unfortunately, so has verbal abuse. When these two worlds integrate, the results can be devastating. Verbal abuse in team sports can come from coaches, players, parents, or spectators, affecting everyone. 

Verbally Abusive Coaching in Team Sports

Often, coaches will try whatever they can to motivate their team, including using verbal abuse in team sports. In some cases, they use verbal abuse as a tactic to inspire the players to try harder. While their intention may not be to cause harm, using verbal abuse in team sports can produce the opposite results. Coaches should never resort to insults, put-downs, or threats to make players behave the way they want. 

Players with a verbally abusive coach may lose respect for this authority figure and refuse to comply with their strategy. Alternatively, some athletes will take these words to heart, trying harder to gain acceptance from their coach. Both circumstances can produce a strained relationship between the coaching staff and their players. 

In one particularly upsetting game for my child, they complained about their coach and how this person spoke to the players during the game. I empathized with my kid, and told them that although the coach is a good technical coach, they aren't the best person to connect with children. 

I've coached several teams, while my children have enjoyed playing soccer, hockey, lacrosse, and more. I've been there when coaches lose their temper or find connecting with a kid on the team challenging. Thankfully, I could recognize how to diffuse these situations and was able to build a healthy relationship with the children. 

Verbal Abuse Among Players in Team Sports 

The competitive nature of sports can bring out the best in people but also the worst. The team dynamic can create rivalries between players or enhance feelings of self-doubt. All my children have participated in sports throughout their childhood, and I've seen how insults and negative words affect their performance. 

From blaming a goalie for losing a game to name-calling another player because they missed a shot, these actions are hurtful. Players who use verbal abuse in team sports create conflict and can divide a team, creating a challenging situation for working together. 

When verbal abuse occurs between athletes, emotions can get out of hand. Players may refuse to participate with someone else or go out of their way to avoid the other teammate. It's up to the coaches to observe these hurtful behaviors and help kids navigate these challenges without using verbal abuse in team sports. 

Where I live, coaches and players must sign a code of conduct. This agreement outlines proper rules for behavior while playing sports and outside the game. Each individual must recognize there are implications for their actions and agree to participate with respect for everyone.

I know sometimes tempers flare, and words get spoken that shouldn't be. However, coaches and players all need to be held accountable for their behaviors to help keep the world of sports a safe place for everyone to enjoy. In the end, it's just a game after all. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2023, December 28). Verbal Abuse in Team Sports Is Unhealthy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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