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To Cut or Not to Cut--That is the Question

Today's post is slightly different from what I'm used to publishing. I received a question from a club volleyball coach/high school volleyball coach in Texas who is struggling with something I think most coaches have faced before… A toxic athlete. Do we love them harder, or do we cut ties? I advocate for both and have published articles on both: "Mitigate Locker Room Drama: Let the CRO Fly!" and "Coach Hard-Love Harder." I hope this post helps your coaching career—thanks in advance for reading! 

"Hey, Coach Ashley! I have a player making our locker room culture very challenging. I don't think the kid is bad, but nothing seems to be working regarding discipline. Any advice?"

Firstly, I want to express my gratitude for your trust in my perspective. It's heartening to know that my insights are valued in your coaching journey. As a coach, I've always approached the decision to cut ties with an athlete with the utmost seriousness. I believe in fostering open communication, empathy, and respect for each individual's background when navigating such situations. While I've always strived to recognize the athlete's inherent value beyond their performance, there have been instances where an athlete's refusal to change negative behaviors has necessitated their removal from the team.

In my experience, a toxic teammate is one whose actions and attitudes undermine team unity and well-being. I've found that addressing these behaviors requires a delicate balance of tough love and accountability. By fostering open dialogue, forgiveness, and personal growth, I've witnessed transformation. This process has the potential to turn a toxic teammate into a positive influence within the team dynamic, a journey that I believe is worth undertaking.

Mediation methods were integral in resolving conflicts within the team. The initial step involved creating a safe environment for all parties to express themselves. Through active listening and empathy, guided by prayer, understanding and reconciliation were pursued. Subsequently, finding common ground, seeking solutions based on respect and mutual growth, and nurturing a culture of forgiveness and grace were crucial in the mediation process.

When faced with an athlete resistant to change despite efforts to address toxic behaviors, maintaining a balance of love, accountability, and setting clear boundaries was imperative. Upholding a supportive team environment while enforcing consequences for actions helped navigate such challenges with grace and integrity. Prayerful guidance and a steadfast commitment to team values were foundational in effectively managing such scenarios.

Removing an athlete from the roster is a complex decision that demands careful consideration and prayerful discernment for the athlete's well-being. You can make this undesirable duty more palatable if you approach this process with dignity, honesty, and unwavering support. Providing resources for the athlete's transition, offering spiritual guidance, and fostering open communication are vital components of the post-removal protocol and follow-up. Good luck!

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