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Poll: Coaches split on running as punishment for athletes

June 14, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
In May, Coach & Athletic Director asked readers whether they believe that running — suicides, laps, etc. — is an effective form of punishment for athletes. Here are the results of the poll along with some comments from coaches.

Running Survey copy• I feel strongly against running as punishment. It creates a negative environment in the gym. I also feel that this form of “punishment” leads to players not playing all out in fear of making mistakes.

It doesn’t have to be much. You don’t have to run them 20 laps or something. Just something short to show them that whatever the action was was unacceptable. There has to be consequences for good and bad.

Punishment is the incorrect approach. Consequences for poor decisions has been much more effective. Besides, how does running suicides (a term we do not use due to lawsuits) make them a better, more skilled player?

Although they should be used sparingly, we have found this to be a very effective way of doing things. You must have passionate players who aim to improve though. If you have players that aren’t passionate it would most likely be very negative.

Isolating players from their teammates is more effective. No one wants to be singled out for failure to perform and then forced to stand alone and watch while the rest of the team performs their activities. If the entire team is at fault, halt the practice and send them to the locker room without coaches until they’re ready to perform or simply send them home to think about why they’re not practicing to get better.

To be honest, it is a mixed reaction on my part. I have been with programs where players do run extra laps for punishment and it has been kind of effective. Players come in knowing that they would have to run a certain amount of laps or suicides if a goal wasn’t reached. Players would do the laps/suicides and still screw up. On the flip side, I have been with programs where a coach sets high standards of expectations and when a player is late or the team doesn’t meet a goal, the doesn’t make the team or player run. Just knowing that a team goal wasn’t reached or expectation wasn’t reached, sends the same signal as the actual running. So it is a mixed reaction to me.

Absolutely not. As an “old” coach who has used that method, we all need to stay current with the times. Finding another method takes reading and communicating with other coaches, sports psychologists, etc.

Running is good for you. It should not be connected to punishment. I always tell my coaches to us something like bear crawl for punishment. Only use a set distance, no time limit. Much easier on coach and athlete. No yelling about effort, athlete can stop and rest if needed and actually gives the coach a time to invest in the athlete.

I have had my players run a lap when they tend to get off track and start to deviate from the plan. This helps get them back in focus. I do not believe that running them to exhaustion is an effective way to discipline them.

Absolutely not. Running is an important skill in most athletic competition & should never be used as a punishment. Think about it, why would you want to mentally instill a dislike for running among your athletes. Try something else like sit-ups, push-ups, etc.

I’ve found that as coaches are surrounded more and more by the “entitlement” generation, and only playing time and running seem to get anyone’s attention.


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