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This scenario may be a familiar one to those who coach in a team environment. So what advice can you provide for the following coaching dilemma? You have a player in your team who consistently fails to put in the effort in training or during games, despite you having had a ‘quiet word’. You cannot move them down a team because the club does not operate A and B sides based on ability. It is also club policy to ensure everyone is given equal game time regardless of their level of ability, so it is not an option to simply ‘drop them to the subs bench’. However, their lack of effort has been noted by both team-mates and parents and their frustrations are growing and are threatening to boil over. They blame him for the run of poor results. What can you do to improve the situation?
Something that seems so simple can be so complex. What are the child’s (mix of) motivations/enjoyment from being involved; social (eg friendship), process (eg improving) or outcome (eg winning, selections)? Is the club setup catering for their motivations?
Also, is the team dealing with this well enough? Young people need to develop their emotional intelligences alongside any other skills. Dealing with frustration, social inclusion, and being a friend to someone are just as important skills to look to develop in young players of this age.
I am mindful that many players of this age group are sampling many different sports at this time. The paradox is that those players who seem “disinterested”, are “not-committed”, and who are not as engaged with the sport, are quietly collecting skills from a range of sports and experiences, away from the competitive spotlight – and may come back stronger, much stronger, only down the line. I’ve known players who have done gymnastics, dance and diving, and this has only benefited their play in following years when they have returned to the sport. Be sure you are not missing a "whispering talent".
Thanks Hadon, some very sage and constructive advice there. As you say, a blinkered approach to finding a solution is not the answer, rather looking at the problem from various angles and asking even more questions. And certainly not dismissing the player as a lost cause.
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