Sports Coaches
Is there a Problem Child disrupting your Training Sessions?

Problem children take the fun out of activities and cause the instructors or teachers stress. I call these kids ‘FUN SUCKERS’.

Kids in sports come along to have an enjoyable time, learn new sports skills and participate in sports games.

Sports coaches are mostly volunteer Mum’s or Dad’s who are giving up their own time to help out the local community. Dealing with poor behavior is not high on their ‘want to do list’ when coaching a team or squad.

The problem child usually falls into one of the below categories:

  • The child has a medical diagnosis which alters their behavior patterns
  • The child is an attention seeker and will do what ever is possible to constantly gain your attention (positive or negative behaviour)
  • The child is disinterested in the sport and doesn’t wish to be present
  • The child is fatigued or maybe sick
  • The child is bored of your training techniques or activities
  • The child is just a spoilt brat and generally misbehaves

If a sports coach can identify the actual problem the child is facing (as per the above reasons) then working out a solution becomes more simple.

Rather than giving a medical, physiological analysis of each of the above and the solution, I will explain how I deal with the above issues.


If there is a medical diagnosis than I need the parent to brief me on the condition and how it is controlled at home, school and in social settings. The problem child may require medication, while under your care, to control their behavior.

Sports coaches are not police, doctors or nurses if the child requires support request that the parent remain at training or competition games to aid you in behavior management.


Attention seekers are best ignored. I will have a one on one conversation with the child after they have become annoying with their behaviour.

I explain to them that understand what they are doing (seeking my attention constantly) and how it's disrupting the session for myself and the other team or squad members. I ask them to cease the behavior and tell them that if it continues I will be excluding them for a set period of time from the session.

Be prepared to carry through with the exclusion. This lets them know you are serious and not a push over. The behaviour usually reduces dramatically after one exclusion.


Sports kids who are lacking motivation will more likely begin to demonstrate poor behaviour at sessions or games. I will seek a meeting with the athlete to try and resolve the problem. Parents are sometimes required to be informed of the child’s behavior. In squad situations the athlete may need a few days break from the squad to mentally freshen up and regain the competitive drive.


Ill, dehydrated or fatigued problem children will become cranky with your instructions and fellow squad or team members. Nurse them through the session or give them an easier work load away from the main group. Contact the parents so the child can be treated.


Sports coaches need to evaluate their own techniques, sessions and activities. If more than one kid is ‘playing up’ then it is more than likely something you as sports coach must change.

Are you talking too much? Giving to many long winded explanations? Skill and drills too easy or hard for the group? Not having maximum participation in the skills and drills, with too much down time for the sports kids? Outside influences around the training group that is distracting their attention away from you or the activities?

When you begin a drill or skill session you can tell by the kids reaction in your explanation whether they are keen to participate. If you hear the moans and groans then be ready to deal with behavior management to keep the athletes on task.


Serial pests or problem children, naughty kids are best dealt with by producing the code of conduct that you had them agree to at the beginning of the season. The code will give them zero space to argue. Ask them to adhere to the rules and routines or face exclusion from sessions or the remaining season.

Often a few minutes in ‘time out’ will send a powerful message to the naughty child that their behavior was not acceptable and there will be a consequence each time their behavior is disruptive. Try this before producing the code of conduct method.


The sports coach should always brief the parent if you have had to discipline their child during the session or game. This does two things; one it alerts the parent to the problem and hopefully you as coach will receive back up from the parents, two if there is another underlining issue causing the poor behavior then the parents can discuss it with you.

A problem child takes away the fun from the session for you and the other athletes.

Do as I do and don’t stand for it.

The other players, parents and yourself should not have to deal with the consequences of you giving negative attention to the problem child. Constantly.







Coaching kids sports requires common sense Information & Education


Great sports coaches have well planned Training Sessions that include variety and intensity.


Kids sports games must always encourage participation and promote fun and enjoyment as the NUMBER 1 reason for playing.




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