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A coach listens to his players during a training session.

Behaviour is a form of communication. When a player is well-behaved and engaged, they’re saying (without words) that they’re happy and enjoying themselves. 

There are loads of reasons why – at times – some players become unable to control their emotions. It may be finding instructions complicated, a task too difficult, or it could be completely unrelated to the activity itself. 

Whatever the reason, there are techniques you can use to increase enjoyment, reduce stress and keep behaviour positive. Let's take a look: 


Understand how each player is feeling and how their day has been by using cue cards when they arrive at your session. 

This will alert you to any heightened emotions or players to keep an eye on. 

You can download emotion cue cards here.

Communicate the structure of your session by using flashcards and structure boards. 

You can use them to show the flow of practices in pictures, so players know what to expect. Doing this supports the players who need routine, helping them feel safe and secure. 

You can download flashcards here.

First and then

Like a structure board, this technique helps players understand what to expect. It focuses on what's happening first and what will follow next. 

Use this technique to break down instructions and support communication when a player is unsettled. 

Traffic lights can communicate when an activity is going to end. It helps players understand when they need to move to something else and avoids activities coming to an abrupt stop.  

Try following this method:  

Green = we're playing.  

Amber = we're about to stop.  

Red = we've finished. 

Fidget bag

Provide a fidget bag for players to use in a safe space. It's helpful when they need calm or a distraction to regulate their emotions after becoming overwhelmed or upset. 

Player passport 

To provide fun and appropriate sessions for every player, you should get to know them. A player passport can be used to get vital information about each individual.  

Ask the player and their parents or carers to complete the passport. It will then tell you who they are, what they like, why they might get upset, what this looks like and how to respond. They may even already have communication or behaviour support strategies that they use at home and in school. 

Knowing this information will help you manage your sessions and enhance each player's experience by making them feel safe and secure.  

Download the player passport here.