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Behaviour Management

Behaviour management cards

Preventing misbehaviour

Good discipline and strategies to deal with inappropriate behaviour are essential to carrying out an effective coaching program. Strategies aimed at conducting effective and safe coaching sessions go a long way to preventing misbehaviour.

Sometimes children misbehave in response to a coach’s program, organisation or style. It is important for coaches to evaluate each activity session, especially if things do not seem to be working.

Create a team atmosphere

  • Get to know each child
  • Listen, encourage and involve children in decision-making
  • Be happy

Rules and routines

Clear expectations are essential. Establish them for:

  • Attendance
  • Punctuality/arrival routine
  • Behaviour

Make rules (with input from children if appropriate) and explain the reason for each rule.

Consequences will cover things like:

  • Time out
  • Calling parents
  • Missing training or a game

Team routines

What are your expectations? For example:

  • Where to stand, what to do when an activity finishes and what to do with equipment when the coach is talking
  • Responses to winning and losing
  • Responses to opponents

Be prepared to change routines. Be fair and consistent when applying rules and discipline.

Inform parents and administrators

A ‘no surprises’ approach is best. Inform administrators and parents of expectations and rules, and the disciplinary measures you will use.

Look for good behaviour

  • Look less for mistakes and more for good behaviour and performance
  • Give children attention when they are not demanding it
  • Give the team ‘clowns’ more responsibility and do not always acknowledge their attention-seeking behaviours
  • Reward the behaviours you want children to show with praise and privileges

Dealing with misbehaviour

The following points give you a routine for dealing with misbehaviour. Stick to a routine and be consistent and patient – some misbehaviour may need time to correct. Try to encourage ‘good’ behaviour.

Quietly correct

  • Do it without delay
  • Non-verbal cues may be appropriate – move closer, nod, frown or stare
  • Join in and partner the misbehaving child without commenting
  • Divert their attention
  • Ask a skill-related question, such as ‘How is that serve coming along?’
  • Praise a good aspect of their involvement
  • ‘Catch’ the children doing good and ignore some of the not so good
  • Ask if they are having difficulty
  • Remind them privately of the group rules and appropriate behaviour
  • Address the behaviour, not the character, of the child

Still a problem? The coach’s next step …

  • Relate the problem back to team rules
  • Ask the child, ‘What are you doing? Is this against the rules?’ Follow with, ‘What should you be doing?’

Misbehaviour continued

Explain the consequences or loss of privileges

  • Be polite, calm and brief –keep a cool head
  • Be specific
  • Do not use punishment, blame, shame, pain or sarcasm
  • Do not ignore the child
  • Forgive and forget
  • Withdraw the child from activity
  • Use a time-out away from other children but close enough to supervise
  • Provide an opportunity for the child to rejoin the group if the child agrees to abide by the rules


  • If the problem is not rectified, refer the matter to the school/service supervisor

More tips

  • Discipline the individual not the whole group
  • Don’t use physical punishments such as push-ups or running laps
  • Don’t leave your group to deal with a serious discipline problem – send another child
  • Don’t physically handle an offending child