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Dealing With Bad Tempered Players

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"My 12-year-old son has athletic ability above average, but his emotional development is not. He has a bad temper. When he strikes out he throws the bat. When he walks a few batters he gets down on himself. If he gets sacked he spikes the ball and costs his team penalties. I am looking for advice so we can work together through these episodes."

PCA Response By Joe Scally, PCA Trainer-Chicago
Your son's behavior, unfortunately, is not unusual. He may have seen pro athletes and coaches throw equipment, break water coolers with bats, bang on scorer's tables, and otherwise vent frustration. However, the type of behavior you describe should not be tolerated at any level of competition.

Fortunately, there are some powerful behavior modifiers you and your son's coach can use to help him keep cool: consequences, ignoring bad behavior, and praising good behavior. Work with the coach to set and explain a clear consequence to your son and then apply it whenever he misbehaves. For example, take him out of the game until he cools down. The coach should calmly apply the consequence and then ignore your son until your son calms down. Then the coach should praise him for getting himself together and send him back into the game.

Be patient. You may need to repeat this process until the behavior begins to change. Your son may try to push the limits until he realizes the coach is serious. It's important for the coach to stay calm to model the right type of behavior.

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