Intensive Training in Youth Sports: A New Abuse of Power?

In: Bullying and the Abuse of Power
Author: Melanie Lang

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In many popular sports such as gymnastics, tennis, skating, diving and swimming, children are pushed into intensive training programmes at a young age. Commonly, these intensive training regimes are punitively enforced by the adults whom youth athletes look up to the most - their coaches and parents. Is this level of daily training healthy for a young athlete? Or is it a modern form of child abuse that has become such an accepted part of elite youth sport it is rendered invisible? Are coaches justified in pushing youth athletes towards success? Or is such behaviour bullying or even a flagrant abuse of power? Using examples, this paper aims to trigger debate on normalised training practices in competitive youth sport.