Nathan Fleenor, Head Coach at Harrison High School, Evansville, IN
My first two years of being a Head Coach, we had a lot of discipline issues that we dealt with on what felt like a daily and especially a weekly basis. We gave suspensions and dealt with the issues as they happened, but it was becoming so difficult to be consistent with so many issues. These issues were everything from being late to class, behavior in class, lunch detentions, in-school suspension, late for practices, technicals, and many other infractions.
My third season we had several players in that senior class that we knew we had to do something different. My assistant David Alexander (now Head Girls Coach at Evansville Central) and I came up with a discipline system that would hold the players accountable and help us handle situations in a fair manner. In the fall of that year, we gave this out to the players and we kept track of the players’ points to give them an idea of what it will be like and to help us see how it would work for the season. At the parent meeting, we introduced the discipline system and explained it to all of the parents. That way the players and parents are all aware of our expectations and the consequences if those aren’t met. In the first year of the system it was extremely helpful with so many situations that came up. It also was great when parents had questions about the penalties of their sons to refer to the system, and there was no arguing from them at all.
How the System Works
We use a point system where students can get positive and negative points. We have an assistant coach who has a google spreadsheet for each player and they keep track of the points throughout the season. We give the players a sheet with their updated points every two weeks. Here are the ways students can lose points:
1 Point Infractions:
3 Point Infractions:
5 Point Infractions:
10 Point Infractions:
30 Point Infractions:
We always tell parents and the players that it can be at the coaches’ discretion. That is on the handouts we give everyone. If something comes up that isn’t on there then we give it a point total based on the infraction. If a player has one incident that is on here for different infractions then we take the highest point total. For example, if a player gets an office referral (-3 points) and serves a half day in-school suspension (-5 points) for it, then they would just receive -5 points not -8.
We also give players opportunities to gain points back. This gives the players an opportunity to do the right things in the classroom and on the floor. Ways players can get positive points:
Every practice or game we award a Varsity player and JV player a gold jersey. That next day at practice those players wear a gold practice jersey. On days everyone on the team does great then we put the gold jersey on the bleachers by the clock. Players get a gold jersey mark on their sheet, and every 3 golds equals a point. There are situations that come up that aren’t on the list where players get positive points. For example, we received a handwritten card from a Vincennes Lincoln fan about how great one of our players handled himself during a highly emotional and intense game this past year. Little did that guy know, this player needed this card as a confidence boost and point wise. We as a staff decided to give him 3 points since this person took the time to send a handwritten card and his positive behavior was that noticeable to this person. At the beginning of the season, we give them the dates for grade checks, and no issues every two weeks. These are all ways they can get points back.
Player can be kicked off the team at coaches’ discretion at any point.
OSI – Is when an assistant coach has players do a series of bear crawls, lunges, lobster, and other types of conditioning.
Daily Sheet – This is a sheet that asks the teacher about three questions from class that day and a comment spot. It asks if the player participated, slept in class, any behavior issues, etc. They have every teacher sign it at the end of that class. THEY HATE HAVING this sheet. When they go back below -20, they will not have the sheet anymore.
If a player gets over a benchmark and then goes back down and then back up, they will not get that punishment twice. For example, if a player gets -31 points and then gets positives and goes down to -28, they will not serve the 1 game suspension twice if they go back over -30 again.
Stats About the System
We have used this system for 2 years. One of our tough classes were seniors the first year we did this. We saw major discipline improvement our second year.
Year 1 – Varsity and JV had 13 players finish with negative points and 4 finished with positive points. -65, -48, -43 were the worst. We kicked one player off. 4 were suspended for at least 1 game. 33 and 24 were the best. Freshman team we had 7 of 11 end with positive points. Nobody was suspended a game.
Year 2 – Varsity and JV had 10 players finish with negative points and 8 finish with positive points. -26, -26, -23 were the worst. We did not kick any players off. Nobody was suspended a game. 18, 15, 13 were the best. Freshman team had 7 of 12 end with positive points. Nobody was suspended a game.
Examples of Spreadsheets
I never thought that a point system like this would be a good idea for discipline. Now that we have done it, we don’t want to go away from it. The players know our expectations, where they stand, and the consequences for their actions. This system would be good for many programs in my opinion. It makes conversations with parents much easier and has minimized the amount of conversations we have had with parents about discipline. This system could be modified to fit any program or coach’s philosophy. If you have any questions or want to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to thank Heath Howington, Jeremy Rauch, and Nate Cangany for spending the time to have this great website and allowing me to write this article.