WithAll Blog


What Coaches Say Impacts Athletes’ Relationship with Food and Body

Feb 11, 2021

Coaches are extremely influential in their athletes’ lives. Research shows that coaches can impact athletes’ performance, their self-confidence, their motivation, how they understand support, and how they view themselves.

Coaches are extremely influential in their athletes’ lives. Research shows that coaches can impact athletes’ performance, their self-confidence, their motivation, how they understand support, and how they view themselves. Coaches can promote and encourage healthy and appropriate relationships with food, body, and physical activity by:

  • Refraining from commenting on an athlete’s appearance and weight
  • Replacing negative weight/body talk with praise about effort of skill
  • Talking about food as fuel that provides energy to play well
  • Being a role model for athletes by showcasing healthy, balanced eating behaviors & positive body image.

Coaches have the power to help prevent disordered eating & combat the body image ideal upheld within the sport culture.” Arthur-Cameselle & Baltzell, 2012

Research also shows that coaches can negatively influence athletes’ body images and eating behaviors.

  • Coach communication involving body comparisons, critical comments, and unspecific, harmful expectations can increase the likelihood that an athlete develops an eating disorder
  • “Performance-related & body weight preoccupied coaching styles increase dieting, body image anxiety, and fear of fatness in athletes.”
  • Coaches can perpetuate harmful body image ideals

Learn more about suggested phrases coaches can say to help young athletes establish healthy relationships with food &body here.

Download a PDF of this document to share with the coaches in your life here.

For a deeper dive, visit the National Eating Disorders Association Website here.

What to Say Coaches Challenge

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Take The Pledge

THE PLEDGE: I believe that words matter. I want to make a positive impact on the kids in my life by stopping harmful diet and weight talk. I am committed to making sure that every child gets a chance to develop healthy relationships with food and body.


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Shannon assists with the logistics of development and operations and making every day run as smoothly as possible. Her day-to-day focuses on our Recovery Support Program, budget management, events, and administrative support. She enjoys being part of the nonprofit world and finding ways to help enhance the organization. She has a heart for serving others and helping people succeed.

Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health & Exercise Science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Walden University.

Outside of work, you can find Shannon chasing her two girls around, attending sporting events and finding the next brewery or winery to explore.

Lindsay leads our operations, programming, fundraising, and communications to better fulfill our mission. She enjoys engaging with our supporters and stakeholders to build stronger connections to our work. Outside the office, you can find her planning her next trip, exploring the Twin Cities, or reading her book club’s latest pick.

With ten years of experience in nonprofit and foundation administration, Lindsay is a creative project manager working to strengthen all our operations. She loves being a part of a team deeply dedicated to discovering innovative and effective strategies to end eating disorders and is excited to invite others into this important work. Efficient and collaborative, she executes activity across all operations, including fundraising, events, communications, and programming. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, and a fundraising certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She and her family live in Richfield, MN.

As Executive Director, Lisa leads WithAll’s strategic growth as a sustainable social enterprise dedicated to the prevention of and healing from eating disorders.

Lisa has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, community relations, and law, and nearly 15 years of experience in non-profit leadership, most recently at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She is a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a member of the Minnesota Bar, and a Minnesota Supreme Court appointee to Minnesota’s Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. She volunteers with her daughter’s school and with youth sports.

Lisa does this work because she knows eating disorders are not a choice; they are deadly, and they are everywhere. She also knows kids are not born with harmful thoughts and actions around food or their body—and it’s our job as adults to keep it this way so they can focus their precious brains and time on things that matter.

Lisa finds laughter, all children, and the numerous variations of sparkling water to be delightful.