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Code of Conduct That Makes Sense

When coaching young athletes, it’s necessary to have a clear code of conduct in place. Establishing policies that are fair and practical is key to holding your players accountable throughout the course of a season. Not only with this help you spend more time actually coaching rather than disciplining, but it will also help you teach life lessons about behaving responsibly.  

Steve Jordan of writes on that you should keep asking yourself, “What makes sense?” as you implement and refine your discipline policies. It’s important that any potential punishments are fair and reasonable so that athletes understand the consequences of their actions. There are a few things to consider in order to make that happen.

Conduct policies that make sense should be in line with your overall philosophy for leading a program and should clarify how everyone in the program should act. Also, consider the fact that you don’t want to be constantly policing your team. Therefore, Jordan recommends minimizing the amount of rules you have down to the essentials, as this will allow people the freedom to determine the best way to follow that course. And when you do have to take corrective action, make sure that this is also in line with the way you want to lead a program. Having an overly emotional or harsh reaction to a player’s behavior doesn’t set a good example for how others should act.

Jordan also points out that coaches can make the mistake of disciplining athletes in ways that don’t make sense. One example is punishing someone even though the expectations were not clearly explained. This is one area where communication is very important. At the beginning of each season, you should dedicate time to explain to your athletes how you expect them to conduct themselves and why. If athletes don’t understand why certain rules exist, they aren’t very likely to follow them. In addition, Jordan stresses that coaches need to treat every athlete equally. If rules only apply to certain people and not to others, that can create rifts and cause a lot of resentment on a team. 

When drafting your discipline policies, Jordan recommends asking yourself three key questions:

What are our most important values?

What do we want to accomplish with these values?

To whom does the policy apply?

By taking the time to answer these questions, you will be forced to think through each policy to ensure that it makes sense for the entire program. It’s easy to start writing down everything that you don’t want athletes to do, but developing a code of conduct should be more than that. Consider the type of team you want to have, and what it will take from each individual in order to make that a reality. For example, if your core values are trust, hard work, and unity, then your conduct policies should reflect this. 

Along with verbally communicating these policies and expectations to your athletes, it can also help to put them on paper and hand them out to the athletes, as well as their parents. This will show parents that you are trying to create respectful and well-behaved people, not just high performing athletes. And when you have the parents on board, holding the athletes accountable can become a lot easier.



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