I once watched a video featuring part of a talk by Russ Rose, coach of Penn State women’s volleyball. Aside from the fact that he mentioned Rhode Island, the state I grew up in (Penn State used to be in the Atlantic 10 conference), I was particularly interested in his perspective on attitude problem players. He flat out refuses to bring them into his squad. His reason was something like this:

If I take a pass on an extremely talented, but bad attitude, player the worse she can do is give me 8 days of grief over four years by beating us (meaning twice a year in conference play). If she goes to a non-conference team then it’s only 4 times in the NCAA tournament. However, if I bring her into my team she can make my life – and that of the whole rest of the program – miserable every day for four years.

I’ve never heard it expressed like that. I can definitely relate to how challenging life as a coach can be when there’s a problem player in the squad, though. That was the case during my final season at Brown and it was absolutely miserable.

Coach Rose obviously has a significant advantage. He leads a top program and is able to be very selective about the players he recruits. Penn State won 4 straight national championships from 2007 to 2011 and won 109 straight matches in that span. Not all of us have the ability to be quite so picky. Even still, unless we are forced to coach a specific group of players we do have the recourse of suspension or cut to jettison a problem attitude.

So my question to readers is this: Where’s the line? How much attitude are you willing to take? Does the line vary according to the player’s talent? Is the line different for a male team than for a female one? And I’m not talking here about general “this generation” issues.

Leave a comment below and let us know your view.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director of Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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