COACHING TIPS: Has Running Laps Become a Form of Corporal Punishment?
That seems to be the general consensus regarding a news item coming out of Des Moines, Iowa, last week.
In short, a HS varsity football coach reprimanded a JV player, who had been making some derogatory comments about the varsity squad. The kid was told to start running sprints, then some laps, and some up-and-down drills as well as a form of punishment.
Mind you, the youngster didn’t get injured or hurt, except perhaps his ego was understandably bruised. But over the next few days as word of this punishment was reported, it was the coach who came under fire. Why? Running laps was viewed as punishment that bordered on bullying and was an extension of corporal punishment.
Whoa….first of all, for as long as I can recall, coaches have always had the right to discipline their players during practice and games. If a kid is goofing off in practice, the coach would simply bark, “Okay, smart guy, start running…and I’ll tell you when to stop.”
This has been standard coaching procedure for a long, long time. And nobody has ever compared this disciplinary tactic to being a form of corporal punishment. I have always linked “corporal punishment” with actual physical contact, where a coach slaps, hits, punches, or paddles a kid. In other words, very physical and harsh stuff. And that IS wrong and illegal punishment.
But running laps or doing sprints? I think the Iowa board of physical education directors may have gone a tad too far. They’re suggesting that coaches need to now develop some new kinds of disciplinary techniques that will get kids to stay in line. To me, while creative appraoches to discipline are always welcome, I’m still not convinced having kids run laps as a punishment is going too far.
Bottom line? Iowa phys ed administrators? When I blow the whistle, start running laps…and keep on running until I tell you to stop.
Some of the callers today even related stories from 30 or 40 years ago when their HS coach told them to “start running” as a form of punishment, and these fellows were grateful for the lesson. One caller even related that he had never run before in his life, but once he had been disciplined to run, he not only found that he enjoyed it, but was actually quite talented. It led to a wonderful HS career as a miler. Amazing.