S.M.A.R.T. Steps

Every club has experienced tricky situations.

Be it an abusive spectator, an off-colour remark from a player — we’ve all been there.

Knowing how to look after yourself and others, while defusing the situation is key to maintaining a strong and respectful club culture.

Here’s some SMART tips for taking the heat out of the situation so everyone can get back to enjoying the game, safely and respectfully.

  • S. Sensible & Safe

    We all need to call out bad behaviours; how else will things change?

    • We must also balance being sensible & safe when doing so.
    • If you feel you can do it without risk to yourself, then do it.
    • If you feel there is any risk to yourself, you can still take positive action.
    • Pass it on to a club official who is well placed to deal with the issue.
  • M. Moderate

    Be open to dialogue and try to appeal to reason.

    Sometimes people are unaware of the effects of their behaviour, your goal is to help the person to see the harm that is being done. You want to de-escalate the situation, rather than escalate it:

    • Be calm and composed in your demeanour and physical approach
    • Keep eye contact and speak calmly
    • Use ‘I’ statements (‘I feel like…’, instead of ‘you are…’)
    • Communicate respectfully at all times.
  • A. Actions

    At all times, try to be constructive.

    When speaking to the person:

    • Take a solutions-oriented approach; focusing on what can be done to improve the situation rather than how it’s come about
    • Use physical aids around you, like signage around the club that speaks to the club values, or;
    • Use a third-party reference, like your club’s Code of Conduct and how it doesn’t permit us to speak or act in this way
    • Reporting is important; make sure a club official or security personnel are across what has happened.
  • R. Respectful role-modelling

    It is important that at all times you model calm and respectful behaviour.

    Keep your own standards at all times.

    Even if the person isn’t receiving what you’re saying well, if they sink low, or even lose their cool, stay composed.

    Remain calm, constructive and dignified.

  • T. Team and Training

    Appeal to the idea of ‘team’.

    If you’re talking to someone in a situation of difference, emphasise the idea of team; ‘your team’, ‘our team’.
    Always bring the conversation back to team health and well-being, which is a common value.

    If you’re in a leadership role at your club, have a think about running some sessions on this.

    Training at a club is never only to do with the sport itself. It’s also about skilling your community and your kids in things like effective communication and conflict resolution.