sports and bullying

Here is some tips for What Can You Do To Prevent Bullying In Youth Sports. We have our kids play sports for all the right reasons like to have fun, get exercise, learn to deal with other adults and kids and learn new skills.

All our good intentions though get cancelled if kids get bullied. There is nothing worse for kids.

Bullying by coaches and/or kids is unacceptable. At Mental Toughness Academy, we want to help empower you with strategies to do something about it.

In her article about sports and bullying, Jodi Murphy from SportsSignup shares with you 3 tips to prevent bullying in sports.

What Can You Do To Prevent Bullying In Youth Sports?

Bullying in youth sports is, regrettably, not unusual. Most of us, who have participated on a youth sports team, can recall at least one situation, where we watched another player get teased/bullied or we were picked on.

In the past, coaches and even parents used to dismiss bullying as “kids just being kids.” Thankfully, in the last few years, bullying has gotten a lot more serious consideration from our government, schools and communities.

While “good-natured” teasing has always been a part of sports, there is no room for bullying and it’s up to coaches and volunteers to ensure a safe environment for your players.

According to, bullying is:

“Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.“

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids and bullying coaches who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

So what can coaches, parents and volunteers do to prevent bullying in their sports organizations?

1. Establish a zero tolerance policy.

What starts out as a joke can easily turn into a cruel insult. At the beginning of the season, make it clear to your players and their parents that there will be a zero tolerance policy for bullying.

While it’s nearly impossible to outline every potential circumstance that counts as harassment, make sure your players understand that if you feel they are being cruel to one another their behavior won’t be accepted, even if they meant it as a joke.

2. Recognize that you have the right to step in.

As the adult, you have the right and the responsibility to step in if you see one player (or another adult!) bullying another. Don’t assume that the kids will just work it out themselves, especially if it seems like a pattern of behavior.

Accept that this is your team and you are responsible for the actions of your players, while they are under your leadership. If you see bullying and don’t put a stop to it, then you are part of the problem.

3. Be aware that your actions impact your players.

Understand that your tone, body language, and other nonverbal messages set the standards of behavior for your team. If you tease or scream at a player, you are giving unspoken permission for their teammates to do the same.

You may not mean to cause any harm, but you have to practice what you preach and be a role-model for your team. Be constructive, rather than just criticizing.

The worst thing you can do is turn a blind eye to bullying and dismiss your players’ behavior. Creating a bully free environment should be the responsibility of every youth sports coach, sports parent and league volunteer.

You have the power to protect your players and ensure that everyone is respected and feels safe on and off the field.

SportsSignup takes the hassle out of running a sports organization, no matter how small or large, and keep it easy and safe for all involved. They do this by providing secure, easy-to-use online applications for online registration and fee payment processing; coach and volunteer background checks; tournament (team) registration; and database-driven member management systems for regional, state, or national organizations.

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