- Look in the mirror.
Coaches should understand that most teams are a reflection of their coach. Perhaps the single most important thing a coach can do is model the values and behavior they expect from their players: discipline, hard work, commitment, respect for the other, and son on. What you give is what you’ll get.
- Start right.
Coaches must take the time before or at the beginning of the season to communicate clearly to their players and parents why they coach, what their philosophy, principles, goals, rules and expectations are. The coach should not just explain what the rules are, but why the are important as rules.
The coach can give examples to the team of inappropriate behaviors for both practice and game situations, and of how they might be handled. If this is done effectively, this can help the team gain some sense of unity and purpose.
If a player is not present for this meeting, it should be communicated to this player as soon as possible in the presence of the whole team.
- Get buy-in.
When the rules are established team members should give an opportunity to make suggestions and to comment on them. When young athletes are given the opportunity to be a part of the process, they will have ownership. Coaches should be open to the possibility of adding, changing or even eliminating rules.
- Limit the number of rules.
There is a value to simple hard and fast rules ("if you drink you will be kicked off the team) but since it is impossible to think of every possible scenario, we think it is better to limit the number of rules and handle each situation individually.
- Don’t abuse physical punishments.
The most common punishment is undoubtedly running laps; we’ve all heard that frustrated voice say, "Jones, take five!" For minor issues thsis may be a simple solution, but generally speaking, we believe that it is better not to sue the physcial punishments, but to find tasks which accomplish something positive: pick up trash, clean up the locker room, paint the bleachers, etc.