What To Do:
Set Expectations and Boundaries
As a coach, you should set boundaries with your team. Encourage them to not discuss a situation during the game. Set the expectation for your player to 5-10 minutes after your last game of the day, request that they do a ‘self check’ if they are still heated about the situation before coming to you. This will help reduce emotional reactions from both parties and encourage a productive outcome.
Use Friendly Reminders
Players, amid the excitement of the game, often don’t realize when they’ve crossed the line with a remark or an action. You can remind them to keep their emotions in check and their comments to themselves in a friendly, but firm, manner. Usually a friendly reminder can remedy the situation.
Know the league’s or Tournament’s Code of Conduct
Knowing your league;’s rules thoroughly is extremely important. When the league has a policy in place regarding handling disruptive players and spectators, it is your responsibility as the coach/manager to follow those policies. Choosing to deviate from that policy and attempting to handle the situation on your own may result in creating even more problems. Many leagues around the country, regardless of sport, have policies — both voluntary and mandatory — to help give everyone a clear understating of their roles and responsibilities in and around the play fields.
You can defuse a tense situation with an upset individual or group by maintaining a calm, friendly demeanor. Setting a civil tone from the start is a critical building block for a productive discussion. Keep in mind that being civil may be difficult at times, particularly when someone is accusing you of being the worst coach ever (as an example). Politely ask the individual to tone-down the volume and explain that you’re happy to listen to their point of view, as well as share your own — in an adult manner. If the individual refuses to speak to you in a reasonable manner, end the conversation and report the problem in a written statement to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to Their Point of View
Sure, you may not agree with their stance on an issue you’re discussing, but you still have the obligation to listen to their point of view. Be courteous and listen o what they have to say — if they are speaking to you in a polite manner. If you are not willing to listen to what they have to say, how can you expect them to listen to you? Focus as much on listening to them as getting your own point across.
Control Your Body Language
Of course, the words you use will have a big impact — the same goes for your body language. Examples are placing your hands on your hips, crossing your arms, rolling your eyes. Body language sends a distinct negative, defensive, message, regardless of what you say, and reduces the chances of a productive conversation.
What NOT To Do
Raise your voice
Embarrass the disgruntled
Take your anger out
Talk behind the player(s)’s back
If you have a situation where you don’t know how to handle the situation, reach out to an ECSA board member that is not involved with the current situation.