How to Deal with a Fiery Soccer Player

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You will always see the occasional volatile outburst from players, no matter what level of soccer they play. Right from junior amateur to professional, sometimes from players known for this type of behaviour and even from those whom you would never expect.

In this article, two scenarios are outlined with methods of managing this kind of response or personality. Tempers can flare even in younger players when hard challenges or late tackles are made and a referee or linesman making a bad decision can cause extreme irritation and tantrums.

Do your best as a football coach to put a stop to this type of reaction. Ensure your players are aware that they could cause a yellow or even red card from the referee. During pre-match talks, remind the team that rough challenges will occur and occasionally an official will make an error of judgement. Instruct your team never to get into an argument with the referee or try to get revenge for a harsh or unjust tackle.

It’s not just on the side lines that emotions are highly charged but all players need to stay calm and composed with their concentration firmly on the match. They should be aware of what’s happening on the pitch not engaging in fiery reactions as this could result in giving the opposition an advantage. Take for example a situation where the referee gives a dubious free kick to the other side. The opposition has played the ball and are now on the attack whilst your team are still arguing with the official.

Full concentration is important during a match. Get this point across to the team by recounting a scenario from a recent top-flight game and the response from the players, whether bad or good.

Hopefully, your pre-match talk with the team will lessen the likelihood of hot-tempered outbursts occurring. Sometimes though you will need to keep a check to ensure a situation isn’t escalating on the field. Keep an eye out for players tackling after the ball has been played, jostling or pushing, heated words or any other inappropriate behaviour. Use your judgement on how severe the situation is likely to develop.

It may be necessary to bring a player off and put a substitute on in his place. This gives the player the chance to calm down, enabling you to discuss the situation and how you would prefer him to deal with it. If you’re using rolling substitutes, it may be possible to put the player back on the pitch once he is composed.

Do you have a player in your squad who is frequently hot tempered, resulting in bookings or a sending off almost weekly from either responding to incidents or actively initiating them? If so, it might be an idea to drop him from the team. This puts the message across clearly that you regard his behaviour unacceptable and that he must think of the team and the effect on them.

It’s crucial to have the all the players on the field with no reductions because of uncontrolled reactions. Discuss these reasons with the offending player and hopefully he will soon show a good improvement.

If however, he shows no change, you may be left with no option than to introduce more severe measures, such as enforcing suspension for a specified number of matches. With any luck, this should have the desired effect and the player will finally realise he must keep calm if he wishes to play for the team.