This is another excellent article from Mitch Cole and the Texas A&M Men’s Basketball Newsletter.

Most would agree that running a successful program involves more than merely the X’s and O’s. Knowing the right buttons to push and how to motivate our players to play up to their potential is just as important. Sometimes this involves studying them and helping them grow. Below is a list of 7 toxic behaviors that can be detrimental to that growth:

Blame-Shifting and Excuse Making


Solution: Instead of pointing the finger, we need to change our thinking into: What can I do to change the situation? How can we fix the problem? Learn to take personal responsibility for problems and control what we can control.

Constant Negativity


Solution: Train yourself to have positive thoughts about people and situations. Embrace the challenge of “turning a negative into a positive.” Acknowledge good when you see it. Identify an enthusiastic, positive person and imitate them!

Taking Everything Personally

Solution: Learn the mantra, “Its not all about me!” View constructive criticism and conflict as a way to eliminate mistakes and grow. If enough coaches, teachers or teammates tell you the same thing, you might want to acknowledge your fault, and CHANGE!

Victim Mentality

Solution: Just like #3, avoid the thinking that everyone is against you. The truth is that most successful people have had obstacles to overcome and more than likely, come from more difficult circumstances than you. If everyone really is “holding you down”, you might want to find the answer as to why everyone dislikes you so much! Once you realize they don’t, you can attack your problem!

Emotional Reactivity

Solution: Understanding the big picture that a certain amount of adversity is NECESSARY for growth. Understand how to  control and harness your emotions so you can think clearly in the moment. Tough times, conflict and obstacles are inevitable, just don’t let them get the best of you. No one wants to be around a “hot-head.” 

Tearing Others Down

Solution: Learn to be comfortable “in your own skin” and in who you are. Spreading negativity to those around you for your own benefit is ultimately selfish and the enemy of TEAM. Maturity is found when you can put Team above Self. Another level of maturity comes when team members can actually share in the joy of a teammate’s success and accomplishments.

Constant Need for Validation

Solution: This will always be a problem for athletes whose only identity comes from success on the court. Players will slide into many of the above behaviors if all their energy is spent trying to “validate” their own worth to friends, parents, coaches or teammates.  This is where we as coaches need to develop the whole person, student-athletes who are taught to put team above self and are confident in their role and value to the TEAM and PROGRAM.


Each of these behaviors are toxic in the sense that they are “poison” to the idea of TEAM. Of course, if we as coaches model these same behaviors, we can’t expect our players to avoid them. Ask yourself which ones you fall into. Then, think of a healthy way to address them with your players!


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