Some coaches resort to using language that is derogatory, sexually violent or blatant name calling in an attempt to “motivate” their players. UNCG’s Dr. Donna Duffy has created the workshop “Coaching Coaches: An Educational Workshop to Reduce and Prevent Sexually Violent Language in Coaching,” that encourages high school coaches and athletic directors to use language that is corrective and constructive when teaching and motivating their athletes instead.
The use of rough language — such as encouraging players to “rape” their opponents — desensitizes people from the real trauma of sexual violence, Duffy said. “Language is learned. Language sets the tone. Language creates the culture. It allows people to communicate in groups effectively. No athletic director would ever argue with reducing the amount of sexually violent language in the school day.”
Duffy knows the problem first hand. In addition to her work and research as an assistant professor of kinesiology in the UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences and the director of the Program for the Advancement of Girls and Women in Sport and Physical Activity, Duffy is also an active coach of women’s high school field hockey teams around the Triad.
“Being a coach as long as I’ve been a coach and growing up in a coaching family, I’m very aware of how people communicate,” Duffy said. “If we have coaches — and equate them as teachers — using this kind of language and it normalizes it, there is a big issue.”
Duffy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.