We’ve all had one of those players in our team at some point.
The kind of player that no matter how hard you and the rest of the team tries, you just can’t get them to buy into the team culture.
Not always, but very often they care little for anything other than their own court time, they’re divisive within the team, and drama has a habit of following them from week to week.
Sadly they’re often talented players, and as a result it’s very difficult to make the decision not to select them at the start of each season.
Now, we all appreciate that you can’t have a perfect team every year. Managing different personalities and finding a way to get the best out of challenging players is a big part of coaching, and a skill that most coaches develop over time.
But sometimes it’s a case of balancing how much time and energy you’re putting into managing a toxic player versus providing the rest of the group with the coaching and feedback it needs and deserves.
In recent seasons we’ve moved players on who fall into this category, from some of the teams we coach.
While it’s always an incredibly tough conversation at the time and in the immediate aftermath you’re left wondering if you’ve made the right call or whether it will come back to burn you, it’s remarkable how often things improve within your club almost immediately.
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Is it a coincidence that those teams were far more successful the following season? Maybe, maybe not. But the task of trying to build and sustain a successful team is made infinitely easier by prioritising players who buy into the team’s culture and ethos, who celebrate other players’ success and work with you as a coach, rather than against you.
We see it as not so much as removing a difficult player from the team, but instead freeing up a lot of time to focus on the great players who do want to be a part of the club and culture you’re trying to create.
Food for thought as you approach your selections for next year!