In a USA Today article, Stressors Trigger a Nation of Yellers, discussing the impact of yelling on both the yeller and the receiver highlights an important message within our athletic world: Yelling is not only ineffective, but it is often harmful. The article discusses why we are a nation of yellers, stemming most frequently from a response to stressors and feelings of impatience and a desire to be heard. However, the article points out the scary effects yelling can have on a teenager’s brain chemistry. Teenagers interpret yelling through their amygdala, a part of their brain used to produce emotional and physical reactions to stress, whereas adults are able to process yelling through their pre-frontal cortex (the planning center of the brain). This key difference of where we interpret yelling helps explain why teenagers have a stronger negative reaction to yelling that often results in them tuning out, escalating the volume of their voice to match or exceed the parent or coach, or removing themselves from the situation. This ultimately leaves the parent or coach’s message unheard or misinterpreted.
So, how do we break the cycle of “one upping” each other on who can yell louder? One effective way is to remain calm and increase healthy communication by being in the present moment and aware of our own levels of frustration. Being able to take a step back from the situation, remind yourself of what you are really trying to say and asking yourself, “Is yelling this message consistent with my values?” We all want the best for our players, our kids, and the youth in our community, so let’s give them the best we have to offer… clear and calm communication rather than the exhausting and never ending yelling cycle.