How to Coach the Bratty Athlete
If you have never had an athlete on your team with attitude, you are one lucky coach. The truth is though, every team has the bratty athlete; the girl with attitude, negative leadership, and lack of respect. Now, it’s not necessarily your job to understand where the attitude comes from, but it is your job to keep her in check while she is a member on your team.
Many female athletes act out in different ways for attention and acceptance, and that is okay, as long as it does not negatively affect the team. Female athletes love to be loved and however they can receive that acknowledgment, they will do it. The one thing you want to avoid as a coach is negative actions to receive attention. If you have an athlete on your team being disrespectful, not doing what they are told, and rallying her teammates to do the same, she needs to be stopped immediately. The longer that behavior ensues, the more time she has to take control of the team. Female athletes can be very clingy towards each other and their want for acceptance among their peers is extraordinary. If your bratty athlete is seemingly the “ring leader” the rest of your athletes will follow. Their acceptance among their peers is far more important than acceptance from their coach.
So how do you stop your bratty athlete? Make an example out of her bad behavior. This doesn’t mean you need to demean her, but it means you need to show her teammates that her behavior is inappropriate. The best way to defuse such a situation is, unfortunately, negative reinforcement. When I say make an example out of her, it does not mean make her run laps while the team practices or give her individual punishment, but rather make it a team effort. If you were to make the punishment all about your bratty athlete, she will receive the attention she was looking for and still have the control she was seeking.
Here is what you can do. Before the start of practice, tell your team that you are going to have a hard practice and give them guidelines; i.e. if one person does not hustle on and off the field, the whole team will run sprints. Once the guidelines are given, the bar is set for everyone on the team, not just the bratty athlete. If she does not comply with the rules, the whole teams runs. If she continues to rebel, the whole team will eventually become irritated and disallow her behavior. By making this a team effort, the bratty athlete is not initially segregated as the “bad apple,” but her behavior in a team activity will be exemplified to her team as troublesome. Just like her teammates, the bratty athlete wants to be accepted and will learn that acting out is not the way to get attention. When a female athlete’s peers disapprove, they will quickly remedy the situation until she is accepted once again.
Key Coaching Tips for the Bratty Athlete
1.) Do not get on your bratty athlete’s level! The more she knows she can get under your skin, the more antagonizing she will be! Remember, she seeks attention, negative or positive.
2.) Make sure she receives the same amount of attention as all the other athletes; treating your team equally will help show her she is not any better or any less than her teammates.
3.) Do not individualize punishment! Rule out bad behavior by team consequences so the team as a whole will push for compliance.