Here’s a quote from the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team that I think will resonate with a lot of experienced coaches.

Ironically, teams that avoid ideological conflict often do so in order to avoid hurting team members’ feelings, and then end up encouraging dangerous tension. When team members do not openly debate and disagree about important ideas, they often turn to back-channel personal attacks, which are far nastier and more harmful than any heated argument over issues.

If you’ve coached for a while, you likely will have had at least one team, if not many, that have had issues with this sort of thing. I know I’ve been involved with several!

We often think that a good team dynamic is one where there’s no conflict. As the quote above suggests, however, that can be far from the through. There will always be conflicts within a team. Sometimes they’re minor. Sometimes they’re more significant. It’s not about suppressing that conflict. It’s about using it to make the team stronger and more effective.

And sometimes trying to squash a minor conflict between players really backfires. We end up taking a small issue and making it a big deal. Pretty counter-productive, right? Better to have left it alone.

I’m not a conflict-oriented person. Never have been. I learned a number of years ago, though, that sometimes you even need to stimulate conflict. It helps issues bubbling under the surface come to light. Only when you do that can you hope to work things out.

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.