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How to Coach Differing Personality Types


Sometimes one of the hardest things for a coach to understand is that different players respond better to different approaches. There are too many personality types on the field for a “one-size-fits-all” coaching style to be effective. A serious mismatch between coaching style and player personality can discourage players or drive them off the team completely.maste

By recognizing various common personality types, adaptive leaders can coach to their needs and increase their overall coaching effectiveness.

Seven Major Personalities Seen in Sports Teams And How to Coach Them

The Superstar

Anyone who’s participated in team sports knows these players. They look like future pros and excel at virtually any position on the field. The Superstar can have a great deal of natural ability but is mostly the product of hard work and lots of parental involvement. This makes for an easy type of player to coach, but they can become emotional when things don’t go their way.

It can be easy to focus on helping The Superstar improve because they’re very coachable and skilled athletes, but remember that your job is to help enrich all of the players, not just the standouts.

The Heart

More common than The Superstar are the players we call The Heart. These players give it their all every day of the week and will always strive to excel. This makes The Heart an incredible player to coach — they’re attentive, respectful and hardworking. They may not possess all of the natural abilities of The Superstar, but they’re willing to do the work to get there.

Put in extra effort with The Heart. These players truly want to play, contribute and make a positive difference. Take time before or after practices to work with them, or even consider scheduling individual training sessions. Reward their hard work and perseverance by helping them to succeed.

The Hyperactive

Little bundles of energy, The Hyperactive simply can’t sit still and may also have issues with their attention span. They’re always moving, and while they almost never intend to be disruptive, their inability to remain quiet and focused can end up being a distraction for the rest of the team.

You may not be able to talk The Hyperactive into calming down, but one successful approach is to simply keep them busy. Use them as your unofficial coach’s assistant if you have jobs they can accomplish without getting too distracted.

The Introvert

Whether it’s due to a lack of self-confidence or general shyness, some players are fundamentally introverted. You can usually spot them quickly because they rarely speak up or volunteer, and will often passively go along with almost anything they’re told.

Obedience is great, but the challenge is in properly coaching them and developing their self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Introverts tend to thrive in environments that make them feel welcome and safe. A more reassuring and supportive approach is needed here.

The Pressured

This can be the trickiest player to coach because their parents are often the problem. The Pressured are held to unreasonably high standards and are loudly, and often publicly, criticized for their mistakes.

In some cases, they may not even truly want to be on the team at all. They play to please their parents, not themselves.

Try to be a positive adult role model for them. Show interest in their opinions and desires for personal improvement. Look for ways to give them what they want, while also suiting the circumstance and needs of the team.

The Hothead

The Hothead lacks emotional control and shows little ability to regulate their own behavior. They will very often “act out” for attention.

Depending on the athlete, this could be relatively harmless behavior, or something much more serious, such as angry fits or even physically attacking other players.

Tough discipline and punishment rarely work, particularly if The Hothead has never learned the difference between good and bad attention. The best approach is to minimize the amount of inappropriate antics you let disrupt practice or play — deny them the extra attention.

Make sure to reinforce good behavior with compliments and rewards. Coordinate these efforts with parents to ensure that The Hothead athletes are getting all of the help they need.

However, be aware that The Hothead may simply be too unstable to remain on the team, particularly if they don’t respond to positive reinforcement, rules and safety.

The Bully

Whereas The Hothead seeks attention, The Bully can be actively mean and seek domination. The Bully may frequently get physical with the other players or challenge your coaching authority.

Even in the best of cases, he’s usually always the first to volunteer for anything (to keep others from getting to do it) and can be generally obnoxious for the sake of self-aggrandizement.

Bullies are difficult to coach because authoritarianism generally just validates their own behaviors. Discuss and reinforce proper behavior with The Bully — consistency in enforcement of rules is an absolute must. The coach can’t overlook bad behavior intermittently, or it just teaches The Bully to be sneakier.

Like with The Hothead, parental help will go a long way.