EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Five ways to deal with disruptive players

The make-up of your squad is a wide variety of abilities and personalities, which is good because you don’t want clones. But there are always a few players who can be disruptive and affect the learning experience for the group – here’s how to stop this…

01 SET THE BOUNDARIES

Be very clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Set your players boundaries at the start of the season, and if necessary, remind them of these before sessions.

It is better for the boundaries to be positives. For instance: “I expect you to be polite, listen when you are spoken to, respect each other, encourage others, and be supportive when others make mistakes. And I will do the same in return.”

This sets a better tone than simply telling players what not to do.

When one of them oversteps the boundary, you can ask him what the boundaries are and then reinforce them as necessary.

02 BE CONSISTENT

Since disruptive players tend to be looking for attention, they will aim to seize any inconsistency in your approach. A calm exertion of authority is important.

03 BE AWARE

There are going to be times when a disruptive player is more likely to make trouble, such as when players are lining up to do activities. Make sure you are in a position to see or be close to potential troublemakers and deal with the problem.

04 KILL IT QUICK

Any disruptive behaviour should be dealt with swiftly. Don’t let it linger. However, don’t shout. Identify who is doing it. Ask him to think about his behaviour and outline the consequences.

05 TAKE IT TO THE SIDE

If the disruptive behaviour continues, take the player away from the others. Ask him if he wants to continue. You can then choose whether to exclude him for a short period or let him continue. Your next stage, should the problem not be sorted, is to refer to the club policy on excluding players from training.


YOU MUST…

  • Self-reflect: Before you blame the player, reflect on your own coaching. Is it interesting? Is it enjoyable? Ask an experienced and respected coach to watch you and the problem player during a session.
  • Use key words: Suggest and agree special key words, phrases or signals, between you both. This signal tells him he is being silly and needs to concentrate and get more serious or you will have to tell him off.
  • Talk to the parents of younger players: Discuss the situation, without the boy there, and ask for their input.

YOU MUST NOT…

  • Shout at or humiliate a player in front of his peers. This is an understandable gut reaction but is likely to start a fresh chain of events and do more damage than good.
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