"Anyone who enters into collegiate athletics understands that there is a professional model in sports where winning is critical," said Chris Carr, a sports psychologist at the St. Vincent Center for Sports Performance, and a consulting psychologist to the Indiana Pacers and Indiana University athletic department. "You can be successful by doing it the right way."
Carr said coaches need to be given on-the-job training not just in how to play and win the game, but how to communicate with players and handle the stresses they are under. He said there's no scientific research that shows that yelling or hitting works, but some coaches resort to it because of anecdotal evidence of some winning coaches who may have done it in the past.
"From a science standpoint no, there's nothing that shows this behavior works to motivate or correct learning skills," Carr said. "But the culture of sport is sometimes slow to change."
One group is making an effort to change the culture, at least for younger athletes. The Positive Coaching Alliance has trained more than 50,000 high school and college coaches across the country in how to motivate without being a bully. CEO and founder Jim Thompson said the program emphasizes respect for one's self, the opposing players and refs, and the game itself.