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A 13 year old with an inflated ego | Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Posted in: Coaching Youth (age 13-18), General Forum

A 13 year old with an inflated ego

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  • kathrynhall


    I've been coaching grassroots football for a couple of years now, and have overcome a few tricky situations, but this years challenge is proving very difficult. I have three boys (one is the ringleader) in a newly formed team, who believe they are far more skilled than everyone else, and consistently tell their team mates this.   They are good players, but not even close to the best in the team. Actually their attitudes render them almost un-coachable, which puts them somewhere near the bottom.   My biggest issue is how they are effecting the moral and confidence of the other players.  I have tried leadership roles, and talking to them. I have enlisted their parents, but nothing seems to help.  They are pulling apart the team culture.  I'd appreciate any suggestions.



  • robertkmaaye

    Hi Kathryn

    First welcome to the community great to have you on board!

    Sounds like you've got a really difficult situation to manage there...I can only manage how frustrating it is for you! After reading your post I immediately thought of a couple of posts shared on the site that might be helpful.

    I recall a blog 'The secrets to building a more productive relationship with problem players' posted in this group where Ceri Bowley offered some strategies that might be helpful. Might be worth checking it out?

    Also video number 2 on 'Four emotional intelligence videos to help improve your coaching (includes transcripts)' might be worth watching. In it Catherine Baker provides actions, tools & techniques that you can apply when you're faced with an overconfident ‘know-it-all’ participant.

    I'm sure other members will be only too keen to share their experiences with you but whilst your waiting hopefully you find these helpful.

    All the best


  • Spike

    I had similar a few years ago in a rugby team. Did all you said but nothing changed. At the time the club took the decision to ask the player to leave. This was a tough decision for me as it felt that as a coach I'd failed but in hindsight you have a team of players who want to be there and want to be coached and who's experience is being impacted by the action of one or more individuals you have to look at the majority.

    Equally it sends a message. As coaches we give up a massive amount of time to our hobby and it should be as enjoyable for us as it is for the players. After the situation I had the players, parents and coaches sat down and drew up an agreement. Something which said what each of us should expect for each other and we stuck to it.

    It's a tough thing to do but if you have tried everything else then your loyalty has to be with the majority of the team.  

  • Deborah

    Hi Kathryn,

    Yours is not an uncommon problem which can occur in a team sport like yours as well as in my sport of athletics.  I have read all the responses and suggestions that various people have tried to help you with but the one I must agree with is Ian.  Sometimes it is necessary to remove the child who believes they are the best and a know it all as to have this one child causing problems is forcing you to unintentionally be distracted from the other deserving and appreciative members of your team.  I bet the other children are really fed up with the bragging and hoping you will sort it out. I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me but this child needs to have a wake up call or they will come unstuck later on in life when they may well come across people who won't give them the time of day and exclude them.  Also, one must  be careful of "rewarding the bully at the expense of the victim" not that I am saying this is how your youngster behaves but parallels could well apply.  Maybe talk to the child and their parents and say that perhaps they would be better off in another team if they feel they have outgrown your one.  The grass is not always greener on the other side and it might just be a wake up call, especially if they are an over-indulged child? 

  • EllyNetball

    Hi Kathryn

    I've shared your pain !!!

    I have sucessfully adapted and used a strategy, originally shared by James Leath, with a large group of mixed ability netballers between 12 and 17 years old.  As it was a large group (almost 50), I split them into smaller groups and asked each group to come up with a list of attributes/traits/ characteristics of an 'ultimate team mate' ... the exercise gave every young player the opportunity to input to their group list and then all groups contributed to an overall list.  As we compiled the overall list, I used questioning to elicit clarifications to ensure there were no mis-understandings or mis-interpretations,  Once we had our list on a sheet of flip-chart paper, each of the young players signed it; their signature signalled agreement to do their very best to be the 'ultimate team mate'.  We had set, and agreed, appropriate behaviours and expectations.

    When there was any indication of a player displaying a trait too far from those agreed, she was reminded of the list that she had signed.

    It was definitely worth spending the time on this exercise ... with appropriate questioning, direction and open discussion, each young player had time to reflect on whether she had the traits of an ultimate team mate and, if not, to identify the areas she might need to focus on.

    Why not adapt it to your set-up and give it a go?


  • Nollzer

    These situations arise and can greatly affect the coaches enjoyment of his/her hobby and the participants' experience. When starting off, I personally, found these disruptions difficult to handle, primarily because I had not clearly defined the attitude and behavioural boundaries. Twenty years down the road, this is not the case. You learn the hard way, spending 80% of your time on disruptive players to the neglect of good participants. Look up the chapter in Rainer Martens Book on Preventive Discipline if you get a chance, it is good. 

    Personally, 3 strike rule, after detailing the requirements norms of behaviour and attitudes. It appears, you have given these lads every chance. Make the decision, get rid of one or all of them and move on. The team will thank you for this. Hopefully, you can then get back to having fun and enjoying your coaching. 

  • kathrynhall

    Thanks for the responses. All good solid advice and lots to think about.  -Kathryn

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