The swearing of my players is out of control! Help!

Ask Dave

Dave says

As coaches, we should feel it is our place to set standards of behaviour and to act as role models, but if you’re clever, you can get the players to reduce and eliminate this behaviour themselves.

Have the players work in small groups to discuss and note down what they believe are appropriate behaviours in certain circumstances, for example at practice and at games. Talk about attendance, punctuality and how they feel when a team-mate criticises their performance.

The swearing of my players is out of control! Help!


Listen and write key points on a flip chart. Then ask them how they would like to be treated by you. Is it acceptable for you to shout and/or swear at them? If not, then highlight that maybe they should not swear at others.

Remind them that foul and abusive language is actually against the laws of the game and could result in expulsion. Gather all this feedback into a Code of Conduct that they themselves have devised.

Have them all sign the flip chart as their commitment to their team, then take a digital photo and email a copy to them all. This should get individual and collective buy in, will make them all jointly responsible for the behaviour of individuals and the team, and will have given them personal ownership rather than you dictating what they must do.

Answered by Steve Phythian, a Football Development Officer at Sussex County FA. Steve also coaches Patcham United Under-12s.

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