Drama on the Court
By: Glenn M. Yankow
June 26th, 2006
From time-to-time players contact me and ask, what would I do if faced with drama on the court? I usually find it hard to answer, because when dealing with another person there is not always a right or wrong answer, it is often all about perception. However, in a few cases such as those identified below, the reality of the situation is so clear-cut, that something has to be done.
I was posed this question -- How you would handle it if two players just need to go. For example, there are two players on my team and both are playing well below par. The captain keeps them on for pity sake, however, I would like to know what you would do. Replacing them is not the problem, it's how to get them off the team without creating more drama.
There is always a hidden agenda -- There is a fine line between opinion and fact, and I think it's important to communicate your concerns to your team captain immediately. Speculation on why people are on a team is the worst thing you can do, it will only lead to more unanswered questions. Your captain may have his/her reasons, which are not clear to you. Remember you chose to be on the team just as everyone else. I understand your frustration, mainly because I've experienced this exact problem first -hand as a captain and as a player. It is truly hard to make six people happy all the time and the balance between the team and the individual gets lost sometimes, which is why you need to speak up to the source - go to your captain on this one.
Jokers are Wild
I wanted to know how you would handle a player that continues to joke around on the court and fouls up. The only reason we keep him around is because he is such a good player, but the outbursts are distracting and not sportsman-like.
You can't win with a joker in Vegas -- Dealing with disruptive players is a really sticky situation. I'm not sure if you're a coach, player or player-coach; having been in all of those roles, I've had the worst of all worlds!
If you're strictly a coach, you have a lot more power - he/she isn't your peer. I'd recommend taking them aside before or after a game, and not letting other players know the conversation, be blunt, honest to the point. The last thing you want to do is embarrass someone, it would make things uncomfortable or worse turn into you being perceived as a bully. I usually start off by letting them know that they are representing something more than themselves. It's hard to explain these things to a player (especially young ones) without it sounding like a threat. Let them know, no one is too good for sportsmanship. Winning is important, but not the most important thing. Decorum is very important even on the court.
Something I've noticed that helps is challenging the player. Make them earn their time, and if they goof off in practice - they don't play. You play the way you practice, if you let them get away with everything in a practice environment it will carry over into the game situations.
If you're a player-coach, good luck, this is one of the hardest things to deal with. I've found it very difficult, since I'm more experienced than some of my younger players. Often they have the feeling that they "deserve" court time. I've explained I'm a coach first, player second - remember nothing is personal. It's hard to keep it that way, but in most situations it works. I also like to remind my players at different times in the season - anyone can run a team, if they think I'm a bad captain coach or player they can have the job. To this day I have coached the same team to over a dozen victories and still have several of my original players. The real lesson here is that you won't be able to please everyone all of the time, but if you are fair and consistent in applying the rules as a player-coach, you will earn the respect of the other players and your team will survive and thrive. Best of luck!