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Posted in: High Performance Coaching

Should poor ‘behaviour’ off the field not be selection criteria?

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  • Ralph

    As coaches do you make moral and ethical  judgments on an athletes personality off the field to disclude them from participation or is your role strictly for the field? This question assumes thier behavior doesn't spill over onto the pitch?

  • saranicolehilton

    Hi Ralph,

    This is a problem I am increasingly facing as a coach. In my opinion this issue becomes more and more difficult the more elite an environment becomes. Also it can depend on what your aim is as a coach.

    At grassroots it's about making good people as well as good players. Therefore, at a young age I am more likely to allow off pitch behaviour to effect a player's selection (if I have to) - more as a final straw. The last thing I want to do as a coach is stop a player participating but if that is the only way of getting your point across then that's what you have to do.

    However, the higher up the player pathway you go, the more important the result of the game. We face this problem at times with National team players. They don't always show the best representation of themselves off the field but you know that you need to select them for the squad.

    The key thing is to ensure that the player is never aware of this. The moment they realise that they will be selected regardless if behaviour is the moment you will lose control completely as a coach. It's is about finding a balance and sticking to it. If your player completely crosses the line - no matter at what level they're playing - they're needs to be some sort of consequence.

  • Ralph
    On 13/06/16 8:26 PM, Sara Hilton said:

    At grassroots it's about making good people as well as good players.

    Why?

  • saranicolehilton

    Not every player is going to make it to be a professional player. Less than 1% actually make it to the top of the player pathway and become a professional player.

    So if we can help them in as many aspects of their lives as possible this may help them in other aspects of their lives in the future.

     

  • Ralph

    Sounds like you’re mixing up child development and athletic development?

    Isn’t that outside our remit?

  • andrewb62
    On 14/06/16 22:01, Ralph Samwell said:

    ...mixing up child development and athletic development?

    I tend to agree, Ralph – I am a coach, not a social worker. “Child development” is way above my pay grade.

    And yet, as a coach, if I have a player who won’t “play nicely” with the others, I have a problem – a group at risk of being disrupted by the behaviour of one individual (star striker who turns up late for the match, or won’t (or cannot) perform when he does turn up), and a player who might never reach the levels she could, if only she practiced/ate sensibly/stopped picking fights with the opposition and the officials.

    If the coach does not take on some responsibilities for child development, aren't we guilty of setting up our athletes to fail?

    If school, family, society have not provided them with the social or behavioural skills expected of a “better” person, the athlete is probably not equipped to become a better athlete.

    I am thinking of traits like respect (for others and self), honesty, perseverance, perhaps even growth mindset. Not strictly athletic behaviours, it’s true. But if I am “coaching the person, not the skill”, I might need to put some work into helping the athlete to develop those behaviours.

    Don’t get me wrong – successful athletes need to be ruthless and single-minded at the right times. And we should certainly coach that.  But very few get by without knowing how (and when) to “play the game” – and teaching that is, perhaps, a role for a coach.

  • mickb

    Of course we should take an interest in wnat are Athletes are doing away from our sport. In my opinion if you are a Coach then your athletes should be able to come to you and confide in you , that is if you are doing your job properly. Do we stop being coaches, mentors role models as soon as the session ends and we walk off the training pitch?

    i know most sitautions regarding behaviour are not just black or white there are often many grey areas,

    But the question i want to pose if the poor behaviour spilled into your training sessions would you ignore it !!!!!

    Be there for your athletes, go above and beyond, make a difference to lives not just to their sporting prowess...

     

     

  • Ralph
    On 16/06/16 10:11 AM, Andrew Beaven said:

    If the coach does not take on some responsibilities for child development, aren't we guilty of setting up our athletes to fail?

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your considered and balanced reply, I especially liked the way you looked at both sides and the middle. If they do bring it onto the pitch then, they bring it into our domain. But if they don’t, then what?

     Not just social worker; we usually are not qualified psychotherapists, clinical psychologist, nor cognitive behavioral counselors. Few coaches have a sports psychology qualification. Perhaps they should?

    I’m not so sure about the pay grade argument, us coaches are always doing stuff without any thanks or appreciation, let alone pay, maybe it’s an occupational hazard?

    But…You know they have done some pretty questionable things, (it’s possible others team members know about it, what’s your role as coach?) they have gone way beyond reasonable behavior, what do you do?

    You are right, these things tend to throw up more questions than answers.

    Just as it’s difficult to separate nature and nurture, perhaps it’s difficult to separate athletic development and child development?

    Surely sport gives the child, discipline skills, emotional and social intelligence, life management skills; isn’t that child development? (or perhaps we’ve learnt nothing from Paul Gascoigne). Can our athletes become so institutionalized, they can’t cope, in the “real” world?

     I agree, you are right, It IS possible if we do nothing, we are setting them up to fail, the lack of discipline off the pitch, COULD sooner or later, with enough pressure spill onto the pitch and they are biting someone’s ear off.

    We do have a duty of care, if we are setting them up to fail; are we culpable??? We do have a duty of care, that is clear, even off the pitch (even at the simplest legal level of the Good Samaritan Law).

    We know for sure, sport can change children’s lives markedly for the better, it can even save their lives or keep them out of jail.

     Although I appreciate that if school, family, society have not provided them with the social or behavioral skills expected of a “better” person, the athlete is probably not equipped to become a better athlete.

    What is also true is the opposite, a personality disorder can make them a successful athlete, a not so better person can be a successful athlete.

     “The same mechanisms that wake the inner genius that help him score goals is the same that helps Saurez bite.”

     Mike Tyson admits, “Y’all guys know what I do…I put people in body bags. I try to catch them right on the tip of his nose because I try to punch the bone into the brain.If he doesn't die, it doesn't count. If he's not dead, it doesn't count. I was gonna rip his heart out. I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious, the most ruthless champion there has ever been. I want his heart! I want to eat his children!

     Various football teams could be sent home, just because of the behavior of fans. So can we really separate bad behavior from sport just because it’s not in our job description?

  • Ralph
    On 17/06/16 10:25 AM, Mick Bamford said:

    Do we stop being coaches, mentors role models as soon as the session ends and we walk off the training pitch?

    Hi Mike,

    Academics agree with you and I couldn’t find any that don’t.

     “Our research shows, however, that a consideration of basic psychological needs provides a basis for predicting when the efficient pursuit and attainment of goals will be associated with more positive versus more negative performance and well-being outcomes.” DECI & RYAN University of Rochester

     

    “If you think winning is one of the key determinants that makes organized sports fun for kids think again: Winning along with other mental bonuses ranked near the bottom of 81 determinants of fun. Being a good sport, Trying hard, and Positive coaching were the most important when it comes to fun; together, these three factors were coined the "youth sport ethos". "Most remarkably, Being a good sport, Trying hard and Positive coaching came in as the top three most important factors to having fun," says Prof Visek.

     

    "Athletes are more likely to cheat if they have a domineering coach. People are more likely to cheat and make immoral decisions when their transgressions don't involve an explicit action," says Rimma Teper, PhD.

     

    Boyatzis, a faculty member at Weatherhead School of Management, and Jack, director of the university's Brain, Mind and Consciousness Lab, say coaches should seek to arouse a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA), which causes positive emotion and arouses neuroendocrine systems that stimulate better cognitive functioning and increased perceptual accuracy and openness in the person being coached, taught or advised. Emphasizing weaknesses, flaws, or other shortcomings, or even trying to "fix" the problem for the coached person, has an opposite effect. "You would activate the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA), which causes people to defend themselves, and as a result they close down," Boyatzis says. "One of the major reasons people work is for the chance to learn and grow. So at every managerial relationship, and every boss-subordinate relationship, people are more willing to use their talents if they feel they have an opportunity to learn and grow."

     "In identifying a willingness to take risks as an important attitude of mentally tough elite cricketers, Bull et al. (2005) and others (i.e., Kontos, 2004) appear to imply a form of calculated risk-taking rather than an impulsion towards risk. Consistent with such theorizing, it is possible that a willingness to take physical risks (as evidenced in the present research) allows mentally tough athletes to avoid stagnation by facing challenges with the opportunity to learn important lessons about oneself.

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