Are You Correctly Disciplining Your Players?
Taking on the role of a coach is very similar to that of a parent. Responsibilities as a mentor and guide extend far beyond drills and scrimmages. Sometimes a coach is required to undertake the role of a disciplinarian. Just like in parenting, discipline is needed to teach players valuable lessons. Here are ten tips to incorporate positive punishments into practice time.
1. Punish only those who are able but unwilling to perform. Punishing an athlete for not doing something they are unable to do will only erode their confidence and hinder their development. Before imposing punishment, ask yourself: 1) Does the athlete have the ability to do what you are asking? and 2) Is the athlete giving their best effort? If the athlete lacks ability, and if the athlete is doing his or her best, the solution is more practice and instruction rather than punishment.
2. Control your temper and hold no grudges. Don’t let personal feelings interfere. Whether you like someone has nothing to do with good order and discipline.
3. Listen. With an open mind and without prejudging, listen to the athlete’s side of the story.
4. Make sure the athlete understands the reason for the punishment.Punishment is not productive unless the athlete learns something. Silent punishment is unproductive punishment.
5. Avoid threatening an athlete with punishment. Making threats puts you in the position of having to deliver on that threat. In such a situation you may end up punishing because you said you would rather than because the behavior merits punishment. This undermines your standing as a leader.
6. Avoid mass punishment. Correctly identify the problem, determine if an individual or individuals are responsible, and use an appropriate form of correction.
7. Focus on behavior. Let the athlete know that it’s the behavior - not the individual - that is the problem. “You let the team down” works; “You’re a loser” sends the wrong message.
8. Let them know you believe in them. Since people tend to live up to their leader’s expectations, tell them, “I know you can do better than that. I expect you to do better than that.”
9. Avoid humiliation. Never humiliate an athlete.
10. Be judicious. Make sure punishment isn’t excessive or unreasonable. It’s not only the severity of the punishment that keeps athletes in line, it’s also the certainty that they can’t get away with the undesirable behavior.
Editor’s Note: A special thanks to PositiveSports.net for these tips.
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