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How to Deal With a Disruptive Player

Stop the Problem Before It Spreads


A disruptive player is one that is bringing negativity to your team in some way that makes it difficult to progress. In the previous article, we discussed some different ways that disruptive players can operate and saw some real world examples of how coaches responded and how that worked out for them.

Now let’s discuss some things to keep in mind when you are dealing with a disruptive player. If you are the coach of a disruptive player, you should never forget who is in charge. No matter how good the player is, how integral they are to the team and how manipulative they may be, you are the authority figure here and thus the team leader. Never let a player assume the leadership role that you should have sewn up. That means you should not let them dictate what happens, shirk the team rules or tell you how things are going to be. You should not play catch up or lead from behind.

Often, if a player has become so repeatedly disruptive that you’re searching for solutions, they are used to having their own way and have not had much experience with discipline. They may even be longing for someone to put them in their place. They may be exploring the boundaries. If you let it go, things could get decidedly worse.

A player who has a negative attitude or that keeps undermining your authority in some way is not unlike a cancer that attacks the human body. When a cancer goes untreated, it spreads to other organs and becomes even more difficult to cure. This can happen on a team as well. If the person’s negative attitude and disrespect for a coach's authority is allowed to continue, it can quickly spread to other players and become extremely difficult to stop.

Whatever you do, do not ignore the problem. Handle it right away and handle it with the severity the behavior deserves. If you don’t, you could be looking down the barrel of a very long, very hard season.

When dealing with a disruptive player, you may want to consider the ways in which a doctor would approach curing a disease like cancer in one of his patients. What you're dealing with is not so different. Here are three steps to keep in mind:

  1. Diagnose the Problem
  2. Determine the Best Method to Treat It
  3. If All Else Fails, Cut

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