Good morning everyone. My name is Erin Taylor, and I'm the varsity soccer coach at North Shore High School. I, like many athletes in our tri-state area today, grew up dreaming of playing for East State University. It doesn't matter what sport a boy or girl plays, ESU has a reputation for being a winner in all of them. What makes me especially proud of being an ESU alumna is not just the national championship ring I wear on my finger. I am also proud of the excellent reputation ESU athletes enjoy off of the playing field, too. ESU consistently has the highest graduation rate for all division I schools across the country. I think we can probably boast the lowest arrest rate, too, from what I read in the sports page these days. ESU's success and reputation all boils down to discipline. The disciplined athlete is going to be a successful athlete, and ESU knows how to instill discipline in its players. It is my great pleasure to introduce to you our keynote speaker for the Tri-State Women Coaches Association Summer Coaching School – Mary Curry, Director of Women's Athletics at East State University. Before she became the AD, Coach Curry was the coach of ESU's national championship women's soccer team. As many times as she busted my butt as my soccer coach, I can personally attest to her expertise on discipline. Let's give a warm tri-state welcome to Coach Curry.
Thank you for that lovely introduction, Erin. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a little discipline. When Erin first arrived at ESU, we had to work a bit on manners and respect, but look how far it's taken her. Although my players will never believe it, I shed many tears when I saw several of my former players, including Erin here, receive the gold medal in the '96 Olympics.
What exactly is discipline? The definition I like best is that discipline is what a person does when no one else is looking and no one else will ever find out about it. Discipline is not just about punishment and reward. We all have to do things that we will not be punished or rewarded for, but we do them just the same. The challenge we face as coaches is in instilling our players with the discipline they need to grow up to be responsible citizens who will be an asset to our community while at the same time teaching them the X's and O's of their sport. Unfortunately, I see too many schools and communities that worried more about the win-loss record than the integrity of their players. To me, the two go hand in hand. If I have disciplined players, I can teach them how to win. Until they are disciplined, however, I can teach them very little.
A successful and happy player in action. Has this young lady benefited from Coach Curry's teaching?
The question, then is, how does a coach instill strong self-discipline in her players? I see it as a three-part process. The first part is in the example I set as the girls' coach. If I expect my players to be on time for team functions, then I must be early. If I expect my girls to speak like ladies, then I must speak like a lady. Whatever I expect of my players, behavior-wise, I must be a positive example of that. The second part is in having clear team rules and expectations, and in being consistent in how I enforce them. If I am going to penalize a girl for bad language, then I must be prepared to punish every player for every instance. I can't have different standards for different players or for different occasions. The third part is distinguishing between lack of discipline and lack of skill. All players will make mistakes in skill. The newer the skill, the more mistakes they'll make. I have to be able to judge whether the mistake a player made was because she lacks the skill to do better or if she lacked the effort to do what she is able to do. If she lacks the skill, then it is my job to teach her the skill. If she has the ability but chose not to use it, then it's time to discipline her.
Now we get to the big question in how to discipline my athletes so that they are an asset to their program, school and community. To answer that question, I have a few questions to ask of you. Your answers will help determine the best program for your program and your girls.
How many of you coach multi-sport athletes? I see quite a few hands. In college, the multi-sport athlete is fairly rare, but the opposite is true in high school. You will have better success in establishing discipline if all the coaches in your school agree to the same set of standards and consequences. It is confusing for a high school girl to decide what she is allowed to do and what is overlooked from one sport to the next. Even though we have few multi-sport athletes at ESU, all coaches have similar rules and standards for their players. For example, all first semester freshmen have a curfew. All athletes are required to attend all classes. All athletes are required to meet the same minimum grade point average in order not to have a curfew. All athletes are required to live in the athletic dorms. Professors never have to wonder if they're dealing with a naughty volleyball player or basketball player, and will her coach care that she skipped class or acted up in class. The professors at ESU know that we tolerate NO misbehavior from ANY athlete, male or female.
Once we've decided to all follow the same set of standards for all of our athletes, the next question becomes how do we penalize the athlete who breaks the rule? When I coached the women's soccer team at ESU, I viewed myself not only as the girls' coach but also as their mother away from home, and I treated them as my children. How many of you are mothers? Again I see a large number of hands. How would you punish your child at home for deliberately breaking a known family rule? If you're like most parents in the tri-state area, you probably wouldn't hesitate to spank, would you? Many were the times I was sent to cut a switch growing up. Sometimes I think cutting the switch was almost as bad as the spanking I got with it. Although I hated those tannings I got growing up, I know they helped mold me into a responsible woman. I won't ask for a show of hands on how many of you got paddled by your own coaches, but since this is the tri-state area, I assume I would see a large number of hands going up. I already see a number of heads nodding. Just like the paddlings you got from your old coaches helped you become productive citizens; a paddling from you could do your own athletes a world of good. When Erin said I busted her butt a number of times while she played for me, she wasn't just speaking figuratively; I really did paddle her.
The hard part for most of us, if not all of us, is being consistent with carrying out discipline, especially paddling. It's easy enough to tell a player to take a lap or do some pushups. It's a lot harder to tell her to bend over and swat her with a board. One thing we need to remember though is that we do our players a disservice when we are inconsistent. If a certain behavior earns a paddling today, that same behavior MUST earn a paddling tomorrow. If you choose not to paddle, or your school system won't allow it, then whatever you use as your consequence must also be consistent. Nothing will hurt your program more than your players not knowing exactly how much rope you will give them before they hang themselves. The amount of rope should not be much longer for a senior than it is for a freshman. In fact, I might have an even shorter rope for my seniors than I do for my freshmen because the senior has been in my program for four years and should be well aware of my expectations by now.
How many of you have authority to paddle, but for whatever reason, have not used it? I see a few hands. I'm not that surprised since you are the Dr. Spock generation, after all. I think if you would talk to your fellow coaches who do paddle that you would find it a valuable tool to use.
For my last three points this afternoon, I'd like to go over when to paddle, then for our paddling novices, how to spank, and last of all, what to do after you've given the paddling. First of all, I would reserve the paddle for breaking team rules. I didn't paddle for mistakes made in a drill. For mistakes in a drill, I would give extra instruction or have the player do extra running or calisthenics. I would paddle for poor effort in practice if I felt the cause was the athlete not taking care of herself or just being lackadaisical. For example, we have to look out for girls who aren't getting enough rest or eating properly. If a girl is not taking care of her body, then she may find me taking care of her backside. If it's a poor attitude causing a poor practice, then I'll adjust that attitude with a sore bottom. If a player knows my rules and breaks them, then I treat that as defiance. To me, defiance deserves a paddling.
So what is the best way to paddle your players? First of all, I believe that discipline should be a private matter between the player and her coach. We should praise in public and punish in private. It's embarrassing enough for a teen girl to be spanked. We should not seek to humiliate her by doing it in front of her teammates. The two exceptions to that rule are that I would paddle together players who misbehaved together. If I have two players who break curfew together, then I will paddle them together. However, if I have two players who broke curfew separately, then I will paddle them separately. The other exception is the team captain. If I feel that the captain's actions were detrimental to the team, then I will consider paddling her in front of the team.
How you paddle will in part be dictated by the place in which you administer the spanking. Personally, I like having the girl lean across my desk and grab the far side. However, many coaches' offices are set up with the desks up against the wall. In that case, I would have the girl lean over the desk, placing her elbows on it. By having her place her elbows on the desk, she has to bend over enough to give me a clear target to her bottom. I'm not really a fan of having the girl bend over and grab her ankles. In that position, she's not very well balanced and could easily fall. The only thing I want hurting after a paddling is her bottom. If you want to have her bend over a chair, just make sure it's not a rolling chair.
From Cruel Spanking. A paddling similar to that advocated by Coach Curry.
From Quality Spanking. A girl displays the aftermath of a paddling.
Most of the time, I used a paddle on my players, but there were a few occasions when I took a girl over my knee for an old fashioned spanking. I realize some districts don't allow such contact, but if yours does, it can be an effective way to give a girl some much needed mothering. A paddling is rather cold, and its coldness can be effective. It sends the message that I'm punishing the behavior, not the person. However, sometimes I can sense that a girl is rebelling against authority and is in desperate need of a motherly influence. I see this mostly in girls whose mothers stop acting like the mother and more like a pal. In those cases, a sound hand spanking over my knee sends a message that I'm not going to give up on that girl. I believe Erin got such a spanking her junior year. I could see a definite positive change in her demeanor after that. A hand spanking over your lap can provide a bonding experience to the girl who needs a motherly authority in her life. In such cases, I believe that bare bottom is most effective, though I doubt many districts will allow that. If it is allowed, then I recommend that the coach pull down the girl's shorts and panties, much like a mother would bare her young child's bottom in preparation for a sound spanking. Although I think such spankings can be very beneficial for some players, I urge you to thoroughly check the rules of your district before taking an athlete over your knee.
Once you have paddled or spanked a girl for her misconduct, the matter should be considered over. There is no need to bring up again what she did wrong. Also, I don't think you need to constantly remind your players that if they misbehave, they'll be paddled. If you have clearly spelled out the rules and consequences of your program, then they know what will happen if they break the rules. At the very most, I might tell a player that if she does whatever she did again, she'll be paddled. But if I tell her that, then I better make sure that I paddle her if she does it again. Few things are worse than threatening a punishment and not carrying it out.
Before the girl you've just spanked leaves your office, there is one last thing you might need to do. You might need to give her a hug. Many players will take a paddling as the price of having done business and can simply walk away from it. Other players may feel a sense of tremendous guilt and need to be reassured that you punished the misconduct, but you still love the one who misbehaved. These are the girls who need a hug to reassure them that they are still a valued part of your program.
However you choose to discipline your players, be it with a board or with running, remember that the key is to be consistent. A disciplined athlete will be a success in life, long after her playing days are over. Thank you for having me this year at your coaching school.
The paddlings may hurt at the time, but it's worth it for a moment like this.
Thank you, Coach Curry, for your wonderful words of wisdom. Remember that Coach Curry will be available at 1:00 this afternoon for a follow-up on today's keynote address. I would especially urge all new coaches to come. I consider Coach Curry to be one of the most positive influences in my life, even if she did have to spank that belief into me.