What do you do with a player who has a bad attitude? Even more troubling, what about when she is one of your best, if not, your best player?
We all know that the attitude of a player greatly impacts their performance and the performance of the team. The million dollar question? What do you do to resolve things?
Start with trying to determine what the cause of her bad attitude is. Now the causes can vary greatly depending on the age of your players. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the issues faced by an 8-year-old are different from those of a high school or college player. Problems at home or school, relationship issues, conflict with a teammate, trouble with authority figures, problems with sharing credit or accepting blame and on the list goes.
If you can start to understand some of the reasons why players have a bad attitude, you can start to create a relationship where they trust you as a person rather than just a coach trying to win games. If you can engage this player on a level that shows that you care, you on the road to resolving the attitude issues that are impacting this player and your team.
You can also create an atmosphere of positive energy by reinforcing the positive. Point out the places where players are positive, encouraging and enthusiastic. Praise for demonstrating the positive attitude that you want will go a lot further than railing against the things that demonstrate a negative attitude.
And when this player, just like any other player, does act out, the consequences must be consistent. One way to encourage the attitude you want is to create a level of expectations that all team members must meet.
A bad attitude can be very draining on you as a coach and very negative for your team. If you can understand the causes of these bad attitudes, you can empathize with the player and go a long way to help her adapt. Just like almost everything else we talk about, how you handle things as a coach will go a long way in resolving issues.
Start with understanding and you are on the right road!