Hey there! 

Ever find yourself toe-to-toe with someone who’s just…tough to handle? 

Let’s dive into how to deal with difficult people, straight from the sports psychologist’s playbook. 

This isn’t your average advice. 

It’s time to tackle this, team-style!

What’s Considered Difficult Behavior?

Think of that player who always argues with the ref or the teammate who never passes the ball. 

That’s difficult behavior!

It’s when someone’s actions or attitude throws a wrench in the works, making teamwork tough or even grinding the game to a halt.

Imagine you’re in a high-stakes game. 

Emotions run high, right? 

Difficult behavior isn’t just about clashing with teammates or the coach. 

It’s broader.

It can sneak up in subtle ways, making it a sneaky opponent.

Now let’s dive into some more exact examples of difficult people so you can recognise them from a mile away: 

Negativity Nancy: 

Ever been around someone who can’t see the silver lining? 

They’re quick to point out every cloud, no matter how small. 

Their constant doom and gloom can drag the team’s morale down faster than a lead balloon.

The Lone Wolf: 

This player thinks they’re the entire team. 

They hog the spotlight, making plays solo. 

Sure, it might score a goal or two, but it sidelines the spirit of teamwork. 

It’s like playing a team sport, solo-style.

Feedback Foe: 

Constructive criticism? They’ve never met her! 

Try to give a bit of advice, and it’s like you’ve challenged them to a duel. 

They’re always on the defensive, making it tough to grow as a team.

The Blame Gamer: 

When things go south, they’re quick to point fingers. 

It’s never their fault. 

This attitude can create a divide in the team, turning teammates into rivals.

Silent Bob: 

Communication is key in sports, but Silent Bob didn’t get the memo. 

They keep to themselves, making it hard to strategize and bond as a team.

Recognizing these behaviors is step one in the playbook on how to deal with difficult people. 

It’s not just about the loud and confrontational. 

The quiet disruptors can throw a wrench in the works, too. 

Understanding this can change the game in dealing with difficult people, making your team stronger both on and off the field.

Why Do Some People Become Difficult?

It’s not always what it seems on the surface!


It’s a biggie. 

But here’s a curveball – stress can come from fear of failure or even success. 

Some athletes fear the spotlight of victory as much as the shadow of defeat.


Not just about personal performance but also about their role in the team. 

Are they the star player or the benchwarmer? 

This uncertainty can lead to overcompensation or withdrawal.

Need for Control

This goes beyond the game. 

It might stem from feeling out of control in other areas of life. 

The field becomes the one place they demand order, their way.

Lack of Awareness

They might not see their behavior as difficult. 

To them, it’s passion, it’s dedication. 

It’s about showing they care, even if it rubs everyone else the wrong way.

Unmet Expectations

They’ve set the bar sky-high, not just for themselves but for everyone. 

When reality doesn’t match, frustration sets in, and it can get ugly.

History of Negative Feedback

Constant criticism, whether in their current team or a past one, can leave scars. 

They’re fighting battles from long ago, making them quick to guard or attack.

Social Skills

Not everyone’s a natural team player. 

Some might struggle with the basics of interaction, reading the room, or picking up on cues. 

It’s like missing the pass because you didn’t see it coming.

Personal Issues

Life doesn’t stay in the locker room. 

Personal problems can bleed onto the field, turning a normally cooperative player into a difficult one.

Understanding these drivers can be a game-changer in how to deal with difficult people. 

It’s not about excusing the behavior but about tackling it with the right strategy. 

Whether you’re a coach, a teammate, or even facing your own difficult moments, recognizing these reasons is a step toward turning a penalty into a play.

How to Deal with Difficult People?

Alright, here’s the game plan for dealing with difficult people. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill advice.

  1. Listen First:

Sounds simple, but it’s powerful. 

Show you’re on their team by hearing them out.

  1. Empathy is Key: 

Try to understand where they’re coming from.

It might change the game.

  1. Set Boundaries: 

Like in sports, there are lines you don’t cross. 

Make those clear.

  1. Stay Calm: 

Keep your cool, even if they’re losing theirs. 

It’s like maintaining your form under pressure.

  1. Pick Your Moments: 

Sometimes, it’s better to address issues after the heat of the moment. 

Like a post-game analysis.

  1. Team Approach: 

Involve others if needed. 

A united front can often bring a difficult person back into play.

  1. Open Dialogue: 

Initiate honest, open conversations. 

It’s not just about airing grievances but also sharing aspirations and fears. 

This can foster understanding and break down barriers.

  1. Lead by Example: 

Be the change you wish to see. 

Exhibit the respect, patience, and positive attitude you’re seeking from others. 

It’s contagious.

  1. Empowerment: 

Often, difficult behavior stems from feeling out of control or undervalued. 

Find ways to empower each team member, highlighting their strengths and contributions.

  1. Conflict Resolution Skills: 

Brush up on these skills. 

Not every confrontation has to be a showdown. 

Learning to navigate conflicts constructively can transform potential breakdowns into breakthroughs.

  1. Professional Support: 

Sometimes, the situation may be beyond what can be managed within the team dynamics. 

Encouraging the use of sports psychologists or counselors can provide the support needed to overcome personal hurdles.

  1. Celebrate Successes: 

Recognize and celebrate achievements, no matter how small. 

This can help shift the focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right, boosting morale and unity.

  1. Team Bonding Activities: 

Engage in activities outside the usual practice and games. 

This can help build camaraderie and understanding, breaking down the barriers that lead to difficult behaviors.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Goals: 

Ensuring everyone is on the same page with clear, achievable goals can minimize misunderstandings and friction.

Dealing with difficult people, especially in high-stress environments like sports, takes patience, understanding, and a good strategy. 

Remember, it’s about finding a win-win situation where everyone can feel like part of the team again.

And there you have it! 

How to deal with difficult people, with a twist from the sports world. 

Whether you’re on the field or off, these strategies can help you navigate those tough interactions. 

Keep these tips in your playbook, and you’ll be ready for whatever the game throws at you.


Dealing with difficult people is kinda like mastering a sport. 

It takes practice, patience, and a bit of strategy. 

Remember, every tough teammate or coach is a chance to level up your people skills. 

And hey, you’re not in this game alone.

That’s where the Success Stories Community kicks in. 

Picture this: a squad where you, me (your go-to sports psychologist), and a bunch of folks aiming for the top hang out. 

We share struggles, victories, and everything in-between. 

It’s your go-to place for not just surviving but thriving among challenging personalities.

And the best part? 

You get access to tools, tips, and tales that turn difficulties into wins. 

Whether you’re dealing with a Negative Nancy or a Lone Wolf, we’ve got your back. 

Let’s ace this together, one success story at a time. 

See you in the community!