The Sociopath as Coach, Part II

Some sociopaths make the “best” coaches.

At least, that’s what everyone thinks at the time.

So during the athletic banquet at the end of each season, people will often spend more time applauding this beloved individual than they do the young players on the team. Even if those players just broke six individual records.

Parents will send “thank you” cards and gifts by the dozen to this coach.

Particularly if he or she’s also charming, humble, and from the same hometown.

They’ll talk constantly for weeks and even months about how happy they are that this particular coach came into their child’s life. How this person changed everything. Built confidence. Gave a sense of accomplishment. Brought out the best.

But what they won’t know is how the same coach might come up to someone like me and confide (if I can be trusted or scared into keeping quiet) that there’s no way I’m helping Noah Alton get any more distance. That kid doesn’t deserve it, he’s a total slouch. Doesn’t deserve to win. But that’s just between us. And I want Tyler to win, anyway. You know, so I’m not giving Noah anything. That kid can fail.

But Noah Alton won’t know. He’ll spend the entire season working as hard as he can to be his best. He’ll win the respect of his teammates and other coaching staff. People will admire his character. His parents will feel great about what he did manage to accomplish. And they won’t have any idea that the coach they admire was keeping their son from winning for purely selfish reasons. So they’ll stand right up and applaud him along with everyone else.

They’ll think he’s the best.

Because a sociopath knows how to fake it.

And that counts for coaching, too.

Stand with the parents. Talk about the progress.

Run their kid through the paces. Keep him moving. Give him mediocre to bad advice. Keep him moving some more. Make him feel confident and connected. Make him believe that he’s doing his best. Never tell him that he could actually be number one if you really taught him the technique. Never let him know that you’re holding it back so the kids you like will win.

Never let him know his potential.

The Sociopath Delights on Control

A sociopath loves the thought of making someone win.

Being the person who decides it.

And the thrill of standing in the center of everyone.

All eyes on me.

That’s what a coach needs. That’s often what a sociopath loves. And coaching is even more than that. When you coach, you have complete control. You have complete power. You can choose who will win—and then make it happen. You might make odd choices just for fun. If you’re slick, your choices will never be so odd that anyone will question you. Because you decide who plays and who sits. And you can devastate and burn out just as easily as you build up and spotlight.

And at the end of any good performance, that spotlight will often land on you.

You get to make people jump.

That kind of power and attention can be giddying.

For certain kinds of people, especially.

So before you get caught up in praises for that next, most-connected coach your child’s ever had,

take a second look.

Because sometimes the people who seem to bond with our children the most are also the ones who would do them in.

And coaching is such an opportunity.


P.S. If you think I’m just a bitter parent who’s angry with the coaches, I’ll tell you that my child wins. Yes, he’s naturally talented and works incredibly hard day after day and in my opinion deserves to win. The kid I’m talking about (above) might’ve gotten second in a whole bunch of places, including the state competition. But didn’t. And yes, he was coached that way.

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4 Comments on "The Sociopath as Coach, Part II"

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HG – this is an aspect of how sociopaths manipulate others that I never considered. Thank you so much for your observation.

The methods they use to damage people can be so subtle.

my ex is a very clever sociopath. That is, one of the best (worst?). He didn’t drop me. He wore me down with false accusations, shouting for no reason when I was doing my best to please him, then stonewalling me for weeks on end. This obviously caused a major depression for me. The clever part is that he was then able to blame the separation after 6 years’ of marriage on me instead of him. He said quietly ‘you’re not happy are you?’ ‘do you think we should separate?’ He even got me to agree the breakup was 50% my fault. I was so confused. He never paid a penny for anything and even after he left I bought all his furniture, paid his rent for 2 months etc. and was left with hardly anything myself. He was better off than me at my expense. Then the slander started. He told people I was already living with another man (7 years later I’ve never looked at one – can’t after him), I ‘threw him out,’ I was having numerous affairs, buying luxury goods for myself. He was ‘innocent’ despite the fact I’ve compared notes with 2 of his ex mistresses (who also gave him money after believing his lies). He blends in so well into the community. Nobody believes me that he is a monster – Jekyll and Hyde character. They say ‘but he’s so nice and quiet. hardly speaks.’ This is extremely frustrating. Only those 2 ex mistresses believe me, but even they haven’t known him long enough to know the true extent of his evil mind.

HG-how interesting that the first time I log onto this website to seek some help and possible relief, the first article shown is your Sociopath as Coach part II. The psychopath that has devestated my life actually was my daughter’s coach! I have watched him over the years manipulate and pit his athletes against each other and create an air of “lucky to have my attention” behavior to control these young girls. His actions always left me with that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew something just wasn’t right. I have finally had enough a-ha moments to propel me to seek a better life. The devastation left behind by this monster is incredible. Day by day, with the help of reading articles like yours and devouring anything on narcissist psychopaths and their victims along with tons of journaling, I have hopes and the definate desire to not get sucked back in AGAIN! This madness has to stop. I wasted 4 years of my life with this monster and he will not get one more moment. Thank you for your article. I am so grateful for it and knowing that I am not alone in my experience.

Very true, except the coach or whoever else it is doesn’t have to be a sociopath, it’s just enough to be an ordinary asshole. Not every bad person is a sociopath in the clinical sense of the word and that makes it even worse. You know, after all sociopathy is a mental health problem, it’s something that people are born with, they don’t choose to be that way. Being an ordinary, mentally healthy asshole or bitch is another matter. To be honest, I hate this type of people even more.

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