Recently I have had to deal with a number of issues with one of my teams that has been completely unrelated to the sport itself. Instead of improving technical and tactical abilities of the team we are managing player behaviour (or staff in some cases) and persionality clashes. I have noticed this is a common theme in every team that I have beeen involved with, as a player or coach. This is normal and some player management is going to be necessary in all teams, however a problem arises when the coach spends more time on these issues than they do on the on court performance.
I personally have never found the line as a coach where I felt the need to remove a player from the team because the off court drama’s detracted too much from the on court performance. This becomes very taxing as a coach, so maybe the line needs to become more definite. Every team, whether social or professional, beginner or expert, has people that take up a lot of time while others take up minimal amounts of time, but where do you draw the line?
Late last year Pat Rafter made the call as captain of the Australian Davis Cup to to not consider Bernard Tomic for selection, based on his off-court actions and behaviours. In his opinion it is necessary “part of the commitment that we make to athletes and athletes make to the sport is they always put 100 per cent commitment and effort in competing for their country”, and this took priority over selection based on playing performance.
I am not sure that there is a specific ratio of time that needs to be spent on each of these areas of coaching, however in recent times I have noticed that more and more of my time is used dealing with off court dramas, and typically these occur with athletes that are not going to make a significant difference to on court performance. When do you stop trying to control a situation by helping a player and when do you cut your losses and move on?
One thing I can say is when an athlete is not conscious of their behavior, they can have a direct impact on the team, as well as themself. Bad attitudes at training, or not showing up, poor sportsmanship and disrespect tend to prove to a coach and the team, that playing at your best and improving your team are not really a high priority.