Discipline a key lesson for Lichfield City Academy students success

Discipline is not the same thing as punishment. It is about encouraging people to follow a particular set of behaviours or code of conduct, the ultimate aim of which is to help them perform at their best, individually and as a team. This is the aim at Lichfield City Football Academy.


People rarely change their behaviours in the long-term just because they have been instructed to. Instead, discipline should be a positive process where everyone works together towards clear and accepted behaviours and practices.


Few managers get any pleasure or satisfaction from dealing with disciplinary problems, and some will avoid conflict at all costs. However, burying your head in the sand for the sake of harmony can be counterproductive and often stores up bigger problems for later. Respond too slowly to an unproductive or disruptive behaviour and people will think it is either acceptable or has gone unnoticed. As a result, it is likely to continue, worsen and even be copied by other team-members. It is often far less painful to deal with problems as soon as you have identified them, and when they are still relatively minor, than if you sit on your hands and wait.

Lichfield FC


Providing someone with positive reinforcement, whether in the form of simple praise or a more tangible incentive can improve their self-worth and let them see what they are doing well, while using negative reinforcement such as a threat can arouse feelings of fear and hinder learning. Whereas negative reinforcement tends to be reactive and spur of the moment, positive reinforcement takes a little more planning.


Sometimes the easiest way to put an end to someone’s unproductive behaviour – whether due to undesirable interpersonal skills, aggression or a disrespect of the rules – is simply to tell them. Many of us don’t realise we’re doing anything wrong, or that our actions are causing a problem, and so carry on oblivious. Diplomacy is vital here, as is focusing explicitly on the behavioural issue in question. Just because you’ve had that important initial chat does not mean the issue is dealt with; ensure something constructive comes from it.


Sometimes more formal coaching or training can help individuals or groups to change their behaviours and attitudes for the better. While it is likely to mean an investment of time and resources, it may well pale in comparison to the benefits in terms of improved performance, time spent on disciplinary issues and recruitment further down the line.


Good discipline starts with a clear understanding of what behaviour is expected from everyone, why that conduct is important to the overall culture and vision of the organisation and how each person fits into the bigger picture. People like to know where the lines are drawn and what the consequences are if they cross them, both to them as an individual and to the success of the team as a whole. And they need to see what can come from positive behaviour.


Recruit carelessly and the most talented member of your team can end up being the most disruptive. That’s why assessing the cultural fit of any potential recruits is so important. Communicate to them your organisation’s culture and ethos and assess whether they would naturally fall in step or could be managed effectively in the context of your team, or if they would simply upset the equilibrium.


Disciplining ourselves is often even harder than trying to steer or control the behaviour of others. Buddha said: “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

“Discipline at its best drives high standards and confidence within a team”