An old line of thinking used to state that “the coach is always right.” As amazing as most coaches are, they are also human, and can make mistakes. These mistakes can range from actual willful negligence in the worst cases, to the more common mistake of overestimating an athlete’s ability level, whether physical or mental.
In order to help foster a program that is based in safe practices, coaches should be willing to open up lines of communication and even take constructive criticism themselves.
From the very beginning, as teams are in the selection process, coaches should communicate to cheerleaders and parents about how the program is structured, what is to be expected, and how to bring issues to their attention. These issues can range from other cheerleaders that may be participating in destructive or unsafe behavior to possible violations of safety rules to expressing fear of a particular skill. None of these infer that a coach is not in charge of their program. In fact, quite the opposite is true; a coach cannot be in charge of her program if she is not aware of everything that is going on in it.
Consider a situation where a coach may have joined a program from a college coed background, and is not working with a high school coed team. She may have been hired with the specific directive from the school that they want the high school program to mimic what they saw in her college program. Further, there may be a long history of this high school program performing college level skills. If the coach does not properly educate herself on the different safety rules allowed for high school programs, it could result in a preventable injury […]