I know that all coaches can agree that they have, at one time or another, had a difficult player on their roster. Doc Rivers talks about wanting "character over characters. More R's than S's." The "S's" can range from the physically violent or threatening to the psychological. We all have experienced a player that we consider to be a "cancer" to our team. The following tips can aid your dealings with those players.
The Aggressor = This is the player that is intimidating, hostile and enjoys threatening others.
What to do: LISTEN! Listen to everything this player has to say. Avoid escalation and arguments. Be formal with the player, call them by name. Be concise and clear with your reactions.
The Underminer = This is the player who takes pride in criticizing others, is sarcastic, and devious.
What to do: Focus on the issues at hand. Do not acknowledge the sarcasm. Don't overreact. Most of the time the underminer is begging for the attention. Be direct and let them know his actions will not be tolerated.
The Unresponsive = This is the player that is difficult to talk to, defiant, and never reveals thoughts or ideas.
What to do: Ask them open ended questions; rich questions where "yes" or "no" are not the answers. Be silent with them and wait for an answer. Be patient and friendly. Many times, for the unresponsive, the silence can be like fingernails on a chalkboard and they will ultimately say something even if it isn't the answer to the question. Let them know that this is a start!
The Egotist = This is the player that knows it all, feels superior, and acts superior.
What to do: Make sure you know the facts. Agree when possible and try to find common ground. Disagree only when you know you are right. Back yourself up with stats and video.
In all of these cases, we've got to put into perspective how the behavior is detrimental to the TEAM. Ask them, "What is good for the team?" You've got to sell the loyalty to their team and teammates.
Ask yourself, "What is good for the team?" Of course we've got to know when to cut dead weight. Sometimes we can do everything in our power to get our message across but that message still won't be received. If you have tried and tried and tried, the TEAM's well-being outweighs the individual.