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Bad Attitudes & Self Doubts

Destructive Attitudes

       When a talented athlete has a terrible attitude, what can be done?  By the time the bad attitude is expressed in public, parents have been experiencing the same attitude at home. By default, a coach may become the primary person whose responsibility it is to correct the skater's bad behavior/attitude.

       In some rare cases the skater may be banned from club sessions and in the worst case scenario the skater is banned from entering the rink by the management of the facility.

       Sometimes the parents may be the source of problem with the child reacting as an expression or normal adolescent rebellion that is an attempt to assert their independence.  When the parents are a problem, the club and/or rink management often have to resort to banning them from the rink.

       Coaches may encounter a skater with a bad attitude on the ice during a practice session, in the locker room, at off-ice practices, and unfortunately when at a competition. Their problematic behavior can become a constant aggravation that makes things difficult for every athlete at your home rink. 

       Skaters quickly earn a reputation for their bad behavior within the officials and volunteers of the clubs/leagues that host the competitions where the skater "acts up".  Eventually the press will be present for one of these incidents and this becomes a public relations nightmare for the skater and the sport.

Dealing with Problem Behavior
     
  Resolving behavioral problems must be swiftly dealt with both when the skater is an individual or a member of a team. Unacceptable behavior can allow other individuals to assume that this behavior is tolerated and even encouraged by adult leaders.
       Most successful coaches of elite skaters will not tolerate such behavior as the revenue does not compensate for the associated grief.  A "bad apple" can be easily replaced with clients whose public and private behavior doesn't generate a "toxic attitude".  That being said, amateur and professional sport associations are pressured to generate revenues from sponsors and TV networks that frequently want to overlook the "antics" of athletes who violate the rules because disciplinary action affects their balance sheet.

       If a coach accepts such a "Drama Queen", they are advised to put a stop to unacceptable behavior by immediately drawing a line in the sand and laying down the ground rules when agreeing to accept such a challenging new student.  In professional sports a written contract is signed that specifies what is acceptable and what actions will result in specific terms - fines, suspension, and or termination.  For profit organizations usually have a clause the deals with public conduct that puts the employer in a negative light.  Drinking and taking drugs may require a clause that requires passing unannounced drug testing.

       It takes a lot of energy to deal with skaters that have poor attitudes, but they can be turned around and they can provide a positive impact on athletes and the atmosphere at practice sessions and competitions.

Emotional Baggage
       It is important to remember that driven or obsessive parents of young athletes can be a primary source of their child's poor behavior. Parents can be a problem as rink side spectators and as self appointed "agents" that agitate for preferential treatment of their son(s) or daughter(s), especially when it comes to being selected for a Synchronized Skating Team and/or playing time on a Hockey Team.

       Sometimes children can use their sports performance as a bargaining chip with their parents. Especially if the participation in the sport come largely from the parent reliving their youthful athletic experience.

       Sibling competition can be responsible for introducing either a positive or negative factor that may be  encounter in training and competitive performances.

       As athletes become teenagers, there can be disciplinary problems that disrupt the family dynamics.  It would be unusual if a dysfunctional family environment did not transfer to the training atmosphere. 

       Whenever possible talk to a skater in private and never embarrass them in front of their peers. Here are a few tools for dealing with individual problem athletes:

Meeting with Parents of Individual Skaters - (Speed and Figure Skaters)
    A figure skating coach should plan an annual pre-competition season parent's meeting and expect everyone to be there. Lay out your ground rules for skaters and parents to follow. Be sure that everyone understands the consequences for violating the guidelines and signs a formal written agreement that they agree with penalties attached to violating the rules.

    The group meeting presents an opportunity to explain to parents and skaters the conduct that is expected of skaters on and off ice, at the rink, in the local community, and at competitions. 

    It is important to lay the foundation for: behavior and expectations at practice sessions and competitions. Outline the role parents play in their child's training and development. Stress that parents must physically  participate as volunteers in organizing and staffing club activities.

  • Deal with the skater as an equal - Do not act condescending and never allow the skater or parents to attempt to intimidate/bully you. To achieve get the response you want, talk to the skater behind closed doors and have them take an active role in the discussion. Don't talk down to skaters of any age.
  • Identify who the skater respects and may listen to. Discuss the problem with this person and ask for their support in persuading or have an effect on the behavior of the skater who has an attitude problem. Peer and social  pressure is often the best way to influence the behavior of others.
  • Inform the skater he/she is responsible for his/her actions and behavior. Use the meeting to gain a tactical advantage and if possible turn it into a positive by getting the skater involved with a assisting you in a major project. You might be surprised with their ideas and willingness to correct their behavior when they accept a leadership role.
  • Stay calm - Part of the attitude a skater or parent projects is designed to generate a response. Don't let the individual(s) see that you are affected by what they are doing as this gives them the advantage.
   
     Here are a few tools for dealing with a problem athlete who is part of a dance or pair couple (team):

Meeting with Parents of Pair or Dance Couples
    Plan an annual pre-competition season meeting of both sets of parents. It is very important that everyone to be there. Lay out your ground rules for skaters and parents to follow. Be sure that everyone understands the consequences for violating the guidelines and signs a formal written agreement that they agree with penalties attached to violating the rules.

    The group meeting presents an opportunity to explain to parents and skaters the conduct that is expected of skaters on and off ice, at the rink, in the local community, and at competitions. 

    It is important to lay the foundation for: behavior and expectations at practice sessions and competitions. Outline the role parents play in their child's training and development. Stress that parents must physically  participate as volunteers in organizing and staffing club activities.

  • Deal with the skaters as equals - Do not act condescending and never allow the skaters or parents to attempt to intimidate/bully you. Whenever possible talk to the skater in private and never embarrass them in front of their partner. To achieve get the response you want, talk to the skater behind closed doors and have them take an active role in the discussion. Don't talk down to skaters of any age.
  • Understand that one of the members of a team will be the leader and the other member allows or tolerates this arrangement.  Discuss the problem with the leader as the can effect on the behavior of skater and their partner.
  • Inform the skaters that he or she is responsible for his/her actions and behavior. Use the meeting to gain a tactical advantage and if possible turn it into a positive by getting the skater involved with a assisting you in a major project. You might be surprised with their ideas and willingness to correct their behavior when they accept a leadership role.
  • Stay calm - Part of the attitude a skater or parent projects is designed to generate a response. Don't let the individual(s) see that you are affected by what they are doing as this gives them the advantage.
       Playing time or making the first string (the "A" team verses being an alternate) can be a contentious issue a coach has to deal with.

       Here are a few tools for dealing with a problem athlete who skates as a member of a hockey team, high school figure skating team, Synchronized Team Skating, or Theater On Ice group:

Meeting with Parents of Team Skaters - Hockey, Synchro, Showcase, or Theater on Ice
    Every team should require an annual pre-competition season meeting of ALL parents. It is very important that everyone to be there. Lay out your ground rules for skaters and parents to follow. Be sure that everyone understands the consequences for violating the guidelines and signs a formal written agreement that they agree with penalties attached to violating the rules.

    The group meeting presents an opportunity to explain to parents and skaters the conduct that is expected of skaters on and off ice, at the rink, in the local community, and at competitions. 

    It is important to lay the foundation for: behavior and expectations at practice sessions and competitions. Outline the role parents play in their child's training and development. Stress that parents must physically  participate as volunteers in organizing and staffing club activities.

  • Deal with the skaters as an equals - Do not act condescending and never allow the skaters or parents to attempt to intimidate/bully you. Whenever possible talk to the skater in private and never embarrass them in front of their peers. To achieve get the response you want, talk to the skater behind closed doors and have them take an active role in the discussion. Don't talk down to skaters of any age.
  • Understand that one of the members of a team will be the leader and teammates allow or tolerates this arrangement.  Discuss the problem with the leader as he/she have a positive effect on the behavior of skater.
  • Inform the skaters that he or she is responsible for his/her actions and behavior. Use the meeting to gain a tactical advantage and if possible turn it into a positive by getting the skater involved with a assisting you in a major project. You might be surprised with their ideas and willingness to correct their behavior when they accept a leadership role.
  • Stay calm - Part of the attitude a skater or parent projects is designed to generate a response. Don't let the individual(s) see that you are affected by what they are doing as this gives them the advantage.
       It is helpful when meeting with parents and skaters to have performed an objective analysis of the skaters physical, emotional, social, and decision making strengths and weaknesses as well as a statement of the behavior problem and possible solutions.

       Meetings should not be confrontational. Ask the parents and skater to list the problem(s) and how they propose to eliminate, mitigate, or correct the problem. Listening is very important as it give them a chance to vent and may open up opportunities to discuss the problem and possible solutions in a more productive environment/atmosphere.

       Sometimes it is useful to practice your negotiating skills using the "Moot Court" approach with individuals playing the role of the parents and skater.

Recommended Reading:

The Sports Environment

Psychological Problems and Solutions

References:

Have A Negative Attitude?
Overcome Negative Attitudes. The Latest Personality Tips.

Sports Divas Have Bats, Balls and Bad Attitudes - Celebrity ...
Nov. 20, 2006 ... Fox Features: Sports Divas Have Bats, Balls and Bad Attitudes, ... Athletes like Barry Bonds, Terrell Owens, Serena Williams and Sasha Cohen ...

Are Youth Athletes Becoming Bad Sports? - ABC News
Are Youth Athletes Becoming Bad Sports? ... parents overindulging kids, which may create "me-first" attitudes and lead to emphasis on winning by any means. ...

Teaching Teens Good Attitudes Through Sports
Do they have a bad attitude about losing? ... but you can point out athletes who make a special effort to be good sports or to encourage teamwork. ...

The Anger Trap: How did we get in? And how can we get out?
An athlete may respond to the coach's anger by becoming pessimistic and acquiring a "bad" attitude. Athletes with a bad attitude often get labeled as ...

Sports: Bad Blood: Athletes' parents losing their cool
Jun 12, 2007 ... Bad attitudes and money matters ... author of The Fulfilling Ride: A Parent's Guide to Helping Athletes Have a Successful Sports Experience. ...

The Process of Learning

Introduction - Modifying Skills and Habits

Developing Personality and Character Traits

Relationships:

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Modifying Athlete Behaviors
Drive and Determination
Different Ways to Say "Good Job"!
Self Doubts & Positive Thinking
Balancing Sports & Academics
Bad Attitudes & Self Doubts
Sportsmanship
Pre and Post Season Training Evaluation
Performance Verses Outcome
   
  
   
   
All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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