Coaching can be a rewarding and enjoyable task. But it also has its challenges – challenges that may sometimes prompt coaches to become verbally abusive.  Such behaviour goes against the principles of dignity and respect and, depending on the circumstances, may be unlawful.

Information to help you understand the issue

Verbal abuse typically involves swearing, threatening language, ridicule, personal abuse and comments designed to demean and humiliate.Click here to go to the Verbal Abuse Interactive Scenario.

  • Verbal abuse can lead to increased aggression, low morale, loss of self esteem, a reluctance to continue playing, high drop out rates amongst young people, fear and resentment.

  • You send a poor message if verbal abuse is excused or tolerated because :
    • the coach ‘has had a bad day’
    • it’s an important match 
    • ‘men/boys should be able to handle a bit of rough language’
    • ‘the team needs a good boot up the backside’.

  • Verbal abuse rarely motivates people to improve their performance – in most cases it has the opposite effect, causing embarrassment and humiliation.

Information for:

The Law

All verbal abuse is inappropriate.  It can become unlawful if it involves harassment, vilification, or the threat of physical harm and/or the emotional abuse of children.