Coaching boys into men

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Coaching boys into men


The sessions focus on helping young athletes to build strong, healthy, positive relationships with other athletes and their peers, in order to prevent future abuse and violence. The discussions will reinforce the right ways to deal with situations and the wrong ways to deal with situations, in order to develop a good sense of personal personality, what respectful behaviour is and what constitutes as relationship abuse

Target population

The program is designed to be delivered to adolescent, male athletes, by their sports coach.

Delivery organisation

Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) was created by Futures Without Violence, a non-profit organisation that has been providing ground-breaking programs, policies and campaigns for the last 30 years. Their mission is to end violence against women and children by empowering individuals and organisations.

Mode and context of delivery

Coaches have group discussions with their athletes about relevant CBIM themes in an environment that feels comfortable to them, i.e. in the classroom or on the playing field. All athletes are to be included to ensure that values are shared and concerns are explored collaboratively.

Level/Nature of staff expertise required

Training is necessary to become familiar with CBIM messages, logistics and teaching strategies, so that coaches can effectively lead the program. Coaches will need to support athletes by addressing their questions and exploring their concerns, so it is important for coaches to be prepared with resources and to know who they can contact for help. There are resources online to support coaches to develop a basic understanding of the CBIM concepts, however the full training involves at least a 90-minute group session with no more than 35 coaches. CBIM trained coaches are able to connect with other CBIM trained coaches via

Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)

Sports coaches at the school who have been trained to deliver CBIM will need to set up weekly CBIM lessons with their athletes throughout the sporting season (approximately 12 sessions altogether). Each CBIM session will last 15 minutes; ensuring enough time to discuss relevant topics, questions and concerns, but not so long that athletes lose interest. Coaches need to appear fully invested in the core values of CBIM as they are role models and key influencers to the athletes. 

Description of intervention

For each of the 12 sessions there is a different subject matter. Coaches will have 12 cards designed by the CBIM creators that will support them in delivering each session. Each individual card will include outline how the session will help young athletes, a warm-up exercise, questions to ask the players, discussion points, and how a session wrap-up.  The 12 sessions are broken down as follows:

Pre-season speech:

  • Understand your expectations and ground rules for the upcoming season, such as arriving on time, respectful behavior, etc.
  • Anticipate upcoming CBIM program trainings focusing on building healthy relationships and respect for women and girls.

Personal responsibility:

  • Recognize the consequences of their behavior and how their language and conduct reflect on themselves, the team, and others.
  • Accept responsibility and hold themselves accountable for their actions.
  • Recognize they have a responsibility to listen and believe the experiences of women and girls.

Insulting language:

  • Recognize that language can be harmful in unexpected ways.
  • Refuse to use language that degrades others, including women and girls.
  • Adapt their language to show respect for others.    

Disrespectful behaviour towards women and girls:

  • Recognize how certain behavior towards women and girls can be hurtful, scary, or even abusive.
  • Refuse to engage in lewd or foul behavior such as catcalling, sexual innuendo, or harassment.

Digital disrespect:

  • Recognize that the actions they take online and on their cell phone have real consequences.
  • Refuse to participate in abusive or controlling digital behavior including sending repeated and unwanted text messages, violating someone’s privacy, or pressuring someone for a naked, private, or embarrassing picture.
  • Create safe and respectful digital spaces for themselves and others.

Understanding consent:

  • Discuss and respect personal boundaries around intimate and sexual activities to create healthy, safe relationships and situations.
  • Refuse to use pressure, threats, or force in any physical or sexual encounter.
  • Actively oppose and prevent incidents of rape, sexual coercion, and assault.

Bragging about sexual reputation:

  • Recognize that bragging or lying about their sexual reputation is disrespectful and wrong.
  • Recognize that spreading stories about someone else’s sexual activity can be disrespectful and harmful.
  • Refuse to spread private information or to speak disrespectfully about another person’s sexual reputation.

When aggression crosses the line:

  • Recognize different degrees of aggression on and off the field.
  • Identify when they are becoming aggressive.
  • Adjust their behavior when they feel themselves becoming too aggressive.

There’s no excuse for relationship abuse:

  • Reject the use of pressure or intimidation in their relationships and friendships.
  • Refer back to tools on how to monitor aggression and determine when it crosses the line.
  • Refuse to become abusive or violent in their relationships.

Communicating boundaries:

  • Recognize the importance of talking with their partner about what’s okay, or not okay, in their relationships.
  • Initiate conversations about setting boundaries in relationships.
  • Modelling respect and promoting equality
  • Treat others how they want to be treated.
  • Model respectful behavior towards everyone, including women and girls, in language and actions (e.g., refuse to laugh at or support disrespectful jokes).
  • Notice and support teammates’ or friends’ respectful behavior.

Signing the CBIM pledge:

  • Actively affirm their and the team’s collective commitment against relationship abuse.
  • Serve as public examples of respect towards others, particularly women and girls.
  • Partner with women and girls to promote gender equity in their community.

CBIM coaches are provided with surveys and analysis tools so that they can gather feedback from the athletes, and provide feedback themselves, in order to support program evaluation


Miller, and colleagues (2012) conducted a three-year evaluation in Sacramento, California, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Sixteen high schools and 2000 athletes participated in the randomised-control trial. Athletic coaches from eight of the 16 schools received CBIM training (a 60-minute training session) and subsequently implemented the program, whilst coaches from the remaining eight schools were controls.

All coaches and athletes were surveyed before the season began (pre-test), three months after the program ended (post-test), and 12 months after the program ended (follow-up). The researchers found that athletes who had participated in CBIM were significantly more likely to report intentions to intervene (e.g. by telling an adult or talking to the people involved) at three-month post-test. Similarly, these participants were more likely to actually intervene when witnessing abusive or disrespectful behaviors among their peers. At 12-months follow-up, athletes who participated in CBIM were more likely to report less abuse perpetration and less negative bystander behavior (e.g. not saying anything, or laughing) when witnessing abusive or disrespectful behavior among their peers. For this reason, it was concluded that CBIM can positively affect male athletes’ bystander behaviors and reduce abuse perpetration among athletes. This supports the effectiveness of a school athletics-based approach as one strategy to prevent dating violence among teens.

The creators of CBIM believe the program is most successful when coaches and staff from local domestic or sexual violence prevention agencies have strong partnerships.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 100 times. I firmly believe that CBIM brought my team together to where it is today.” - Phil Conley, High School Basketball Coach; Portland Press Herald

“It’s hard for athletes to open up, but as the season goes on and they understand why you’re trying to do this and what you’re trying to address, they open up more. They talk to each other outside of those short CBIM lessons more than they did before.” - John Blasco, High School Basketball Coach;

“After implementing CBIM, the school was just a happier and better place for students. Our climate is just a whole different thing compared to most high schools. It’s a pyramid thing; it spreads.” - Ron Barney, High Football School Coach; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Miller, E., Tancredi, D. J., McCauley, H. L., Decker, M. R., Virata, M. C. D., Anderson, H. A., & Silverman, J. G. (2012). “Coaching boys into men”: A cluster-randomized controlled trial of a dating violence prevention program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(5), 431-438.

Miller, E., Tancredi, D. J., McCauley, H. L., Decker, M. R., Virata, M. C. D., Anderson, H. A., & Silverman, J. G. (2013). One-year follow-up of a coach-delivered dating violence prevention program: A cluster randomized controlled trial. American journal of preventive medicine, 45(1), 108-112.

Contact details

Coaching Boys Into Men:

Futures Without Violence:

Main Office: Futures Without Violence, 100 Montgomery Street, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129

Phone: (415) 678-5500, Fax: (415) 529-2930, TTY: (866) 678-8901

Washington, DC Office: 1320 19th St. NW, Suite 401, Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 595-7382 Fax: (202) 499-6757

Boston, MA Office, 50 Milk Street, 16th Floor, Boston, MA 02109

Phone: (617) 702-2004, Fax: (857) 415-3293


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RATING: Promising