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Posted in: General

What do you do when your player/athlete completely loses it?

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  • Happy New Year All!

    Hope everyone had a good Xmas break. Over the holidays I was watching the NFL match between NY Giants vs Carolina Panthers. The hype before the big match up was the battle between the star wide receiver for the NY Giants Odell Beckham Jr against Carolina's corner back the notorious "trash talker" Josh Norman.

    Beckham Jr wasn't his usual reliable self and completely lost the plot numerous times during the game with Norman picking up 3 personal fouls - including a helmet to helmet shot which let me tell you was crazy! (see video below).  His team went on to lose by 3 points.

    Have you ever been in a situation where the red mist has descended on a player/athlete you coach?

    How did you handle it?

    Be interested to hear the approaches everyone adopts for the different age groups you coach.

     

     · Simon Browning likes this.
     
  • Haha - My chosen subject!! Gotta love a bit of Football.

    My FaceBook feed lit up like the 4th July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Birthday all in one when this happened. There was also a long discussion in the BAFCA (British American Football Coaches Association) Coaches group about it.

    There are lots of different issues all at work here, many of which are contradictory. 

    Taking this incident(s) in itself, the initial reaction was that he should have been pulled from the game. Should the Head Coach have done so? Probably, yes. However, he is in a results driven league and his job is on the line - in fact, as I write this, I am seeing reports that he is no longer Head Coach of the Giants. OBJr was one of his main chances of winning that game - and he almost did later by scoring late in the game (1:51 remaining), before Carolina got a FG to win with 0:05 seconds left.

    So in that situation, you have a player that has completely lost it, but which is your main chance of winning and your job is under threat if you lose. People wont remember the details...just the Wins and Loses. Giants missed the playoffs and TC is outta there. So he had to keep his best player on the field.

    What he did was rely on positional coaches and player leadership to help try to get him back on track.

    And I think that this is the key. I haven't (thankfully!) had anyone on my team really completely lose it that I can remember. However, it has been close several times. Coaching Uni level, you can certianly get the testosterone flying around sometimes!

    We get them off the field - easy to do in our sport by substituting them - immediately we see there might be a problem. Then it is a case of doing what individually works best - and this is where personal relationships come in. You have to understand your players. For some, they need the verbal equivalent of cold water to the face - sharp, to cut through it and get them refocussed. Others, you just have to let them get it out of their system. Still others, you let their peers sort it out as they are the ones that can get through.

    Whatever it takes to get them through the mist, analyse their situation, work out what is happening and refocus. 

    Oh, and going back to OBjr and Josh Norman...When someone loses it, you have to remember that it usually takes two to tango. Players dont usually go off unless they are triggered to do so. So you also have to identify the trigger and rectify that. In this incident...

    1) A Carolina team member went into the Giants warm up area, before the game, holding a baseball bat and shouting stuff at OBjr 

    2) This baseball bat was then given to Josh Norman who allegedly insinuated to OBjr that he was going to "blow his knees out" and "end his career"

    3) Josh Norman had been talking trash about OBjr in the build up to the game (one of the best defenders going against one of the best Wide Recievers), in order to get in his head

    4) Josh Norman also talked trash at OBjr during the game

    5) On the 5th play of the game Josh Norman threw OBjr to the ground after the play, which seems to have been a tipping point for OBjr 

    So while, OBjr should have been mentally stronger and not allowed Josh to successfully get into his head, it is clear that it is not just a case of him going mad but reacting to something that has happened to him.

    Again, as a Coach, I think that identifiying that aspect is just as important to solving the problem as calming the player down - otherwise it will just go on repeat all game.

     · Rob Maaye likes this.
     
  • Thanks for the great response Simon!

    I sympathised completely with NYG Head Coach Tom Coughlin who was clearly under massive pressure (as you say he has since resigned). At the time he simply had to keep OBJ in the game and again as you say relying on his positional coaches and player leadership to help try to get him back on track was probably his best option given his job was on the line (as the star man of my fantasy football team I also welcomed his approach wink)

    Given all the intimidation you’ve described OBJ was subjected to it would take an incredibly mentally strong player not to have some sort of reaction...his was just a little extreme I guess!

    Some great advice on the approach you and your fellow university team coaches take in “similar” situations. Thanks for sharing.

     
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