Dealing with different personalities is one of the most challenging aspects of any group activity. It is also one of the most potentially rewarding! When personalities conflict, it seems that someone is always labeled as having a “bad” attitude. Whether one attitude is good or bad is completely dependent on who is assigning the label. A truly exceptional coach and teammate is able to find a way to motivate and work with any person, regardless of their attitude. Having said that, here are a few common traits that are sometimes considered part of a bad attitude and what you might do to help yourself deal with them.
One of the hardest things to deal with is a lazy person. Whether you area a coach or a teammate of a lazy person, it is frustrating. You can only succeed in reaching your team goals if everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction. When you perceive someone to be lazy, it is important to first consider things from their point of view. Ask yourself why they are not working as hard as you think they should. Maybe they are dealing with some kind of disappointment in cheerleading, like not getting to stunt in the group that they wanted to be in. Something like that can certainly be de-motivating. Maybe they have some personal difficulties outside of the team. Either way, it could be useful to find an appropriate time to ask them if something is distracting them. Usually that will be the case. And most people are more than willing to open up to someone who is sincerely interested in hearing about their troubles. Once someone knows that another person cares about them, they will be more open to encouragement and motivation from that person. I find that this works much better than certain other tactics like calling someone out in front of the team. It might feel good when you do it, but it usually has the opposite effect of what is intended. Embarrassing or angering someone with a bad attitude is only likely to make things worse, so try to avoid that approach.
Gossip, especially negative gossip, is another aspect of a bad attitude. This is also something that surfaces from time to time with people that usually have good attitudes. It is probably unrealistic to think you can ever completely get rid of all gossip, so keep your expectations reasonable. A lot of people suggest dealing with gossip by simply walking away and not participating. I like this high road approach. However, if you are brave enough, I think confronting a gossip with what they are doing is even more effective. Saying something like, “That person is my teammate and I am not comfortable talking behind their back like this,” will send the message very clearly that not only will you not participate in gossip but that you do not condone it.
Another trait that may be hard to deal with is a cheerleader who never wants to share the spotlight. This is a rather selfish attitude and it can quickly bring down the attitudes of everyone else. Most teams have people of various skill and experience levels, so it is reasonable to expect some cheerleaders will be showcased more than others. However, the same cheerleader should not be in the front and center of every formation. If there really is THAT big of a talent gap between one cheerleader and everyone else then there might be a coaching problem to deal with. Anyway, people that feel the need to always be in the front are usually dealing with some other insecurities. As a teammate, it is best to just be patient and encouraging with those people. It is also important to give plenty of praise and encouragement to other people on the team. This not only lets the other cheerleaders know they are important, it lets the glory hound know that other people are important as well. If it ever becomes to big of a problem, you should let your coach know about it. As a coach, it is very important for your team’s success that you are utilizes everyone’s skills and abilities. No matter how good one star might be, they will never outshine the whole team.
The last difficult trait I want to bring up is the teammate who thinks they are a coach. They may just be trying to help, but it seems like they are constantly telling everyone else what they are doing wrong. This can be a big problem and really alienate someone from the rest of the team. As a coach, I have had to deal with this situation pretty often. Sometimes I make a rule that only a coach is permitted to give criticism at practice. However, not only does that rule usually get ignored, it isn’t even a good rule. A team can improve much quicker if people are allowed to offer suggestions and help to their teammates. Making blanket comments to the whole team to keep comments positive is another good idea that usually doesn’t work for long. People just forget to reinforce the good and only want to point out mistakes. If you notice a teammate constantly criticising other teammates or even yourself, you have to remember to be patient. Tell them that you appreciate their suggestions. Ask them if they have noticed things that you are doing correctly that they think you should continue to do. This will act as a gentle reminder to them that they should reinforce the positive as well as pointing out problem areas. And sometimes, you just have to let your coach know that it is bothering you. As a coach, you have to be ready to tell such a cheerleader if and when they are crossing the line of a helpful teammate and becoming a bossy know-it-all.
In general, none of the traits discussed above need to become major distractions to your team. They can almost all be dealt with effectively by trying to understand what is causing the behavior. Trying to be patient and offering positive behavior to replace the “bad” attitudes is a good step getting everyone on your team on the same page with a good attitude.