Head Off Team Frictions That Can Lead to Open Wounds.
Chafing refers to the irritation caused by repetitive friction. Friction between players should be expected on any team, and you need a plan to address it when it shows up. If you don’t treat it early, it will build from a small irritation to a full-blown open wound. If it festers, it can grow to infect the entire team. Players will naturally feel compelled to “take a side”, and cliques will form.
Chafing can be caused by multiple irritants:
● Some players are very vocal which can sometimes be an irritant to teammates.
● Unkind gestures or comments - a dirty look between players, a comment like “set the
ball higher”, or “hit the bloody ball”.
● Unkind actions like shunning a player from an outside activity.
● Hurtful comments behind teammates backs – whether it be about their play or any other perceived weakness.
● Harmful tweets and posts.
● A player is constantly showing up late for practice, or not following the team code of
● A teammate who gets more playing time, when another believes it is not deserved.
● A teammate is not giving their full effort in a drill, while everyone else is busting it.
● A teammate is dating your ex-boyf riend or girlf riend.
● A player, or players, blaming another for a loss.
● Someone’s knee pads smell, and so on, and so on . . .
Chafing is usually contracted in areas that are vulnerable and sometimes thin-skinned.
Methods to treat chafing:
Acceptance: Learn to accept personality differences in teammates – this is the real world. Whether at school, at work, or on the court, people will irritate you. Try to see the best in others and learn to accept the rest.
Personal Responsibility: Is there a valid reason the player is feeling chafed? Are you perhaps irritating? If so, take responsibility for your actions. Did you say something in the heat of battle that was hurtful to a teammate? A simple apology, and hug or handshake is all it might take to heal a wound.
Resilience: Be able to brush off small differences in personality, or minor comments made in moments of frustration. Showing personal resilience and self-confidence are important. You own your confidence.
Openness: If serious, communicate the chaff to the coaches, but try to go in with a proposed solution. Attempt to see the other person’s point of view. Coaches should have an “open-door” policy and have a duty to treat all players with respect and fairness. A coach cannot change a player’s personality, but they can ensure they are acting appropriately and in the best interest of the team. Speak to the source of the chafing directly. It takes courage, but if you think about what you want to say in advance, and approach them in a constructive manner, players can work out minor differences between themselves for the good of the team.
As with any harmful or negative irritant, it typically will not go away on its own. We must identify it and treat it. This is how we keep the team healthy and happy.