The Coaching Tips that I have been compiling over the last couple of years are intended as practical tips to help coaches in their work, beyond the technical, tactical, methodological information that you can access anywhere. Many of them come from personal experience, i.e. often from mistakes I have made, but always from paying attention. Others come from observation of other coaches while working as an assistant or from a distance. Others come from players. In the case of ‘It takes two to fight’, the origin was fear.
I had a player in one team who was a scary guy. He was very big and strong, an all round imposing figure. He was loud and emotional. His outbursts often punctuated the practice environment. Every time I made a correction or gave him a suggestion his response was emotional, and most often aggressive. When he made his response, I nearly always kept quiet and let it play out. To be honest, I was a little bit of afraid of him and what his response might be if I pushed the point. After a fairly short period of working with him, I noticed that even he openly resisted everything I told him he always actually did it. I realised that the initial outburst was solely a defence mechanism. But not engaging with him, I gave him the time to calm himself and make rational decisions. We never fought, and ended up with an excellent relationship and had a great season together.
Actually we did fight once. It was a real shouting match that had us both walking towards slowly each other. At some moment, I noticed other players quietly positioning themselves between us to step in if things escalated. By this time, was no longer worried about his responses, but maybe I actually should have been.
People’s first response is defence. By accepting that, and letting some emotional comments slide, you can prevent a large amount of conflict.
A collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.
For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.