Chapter 3

B. Conflict management

Sometimes no matter how hard one tries to prevent uncomfortable situations and act proactively; conflict cannot be avoided. In FFS this might occur in various situations and involve one or more target groups. It can arise within the same target group (guardian to guardian, child to child), or between different target groups (guardian to child, guardian to team leader, child to team leader). On these occasions some conflict management skills are more than imperative. “Conflict management is the process of handling disputes and disagreements between two or multiple parties. The goal of this system is to minimize the negative factors that are influencing the conflict and encourage all participants to come to an agreement. Successful conflict management results in a mutually beneficial outcome that’s agreed upon by each party.”[1] In simple words, it is the process of handling some disagreement by trying to minimize its negative and increase its positive aspects, resulting in a win-win situation.

Before trying to deal with any such case, it is important to try to respond to three crucial questions:


  • What is the mentality and the individual characteristics of the people involved in this conflict? It is obvious that each person has their own personality and requires different treatment. Of course, we cannot enter in the process of deep psychological analysis of every individual, though a general overview of who they are is more than enough. First of all, you need to take into consideration the age of the person: are we talking about adults here or are there also children involved? And of which age? What is the relationship between the two parties and how well do they know each other? Is it the first time the two parties are involved in such a situation or is it a repeating phenomenon? All of these answers –and any other you might consider important and applicable in your case- will help you develop an approach that will be effective and will hopefully bring the desired results.
  • How sensitive is the conflicting issue? Of course, not every issue can be dealt with in the same manner and you, as trainers or coaches have the responsibility to evaluate the situation and address it in the most appropriate and effective way. Some conflicts might be totally superficial and arise due to the tension of the game, competitiveness, minor misunderstandings or just a bad mood. Some others though might have deeper roots and could be linked to sensitive reasons that need far more delicate handling. Especially those which affect the mental state, personality, health issues, morals or personal values, or other sensitive personal matters. In this case you need to ensure that both parties are protected and handled with discretion and respect. For example, in the first scenario the conflict could probably be dealt with in front and also serve as a lesson to other team members or set the grounds for some new rules within the team. In the second scenario though the issue might need to be addressed in private or with the support of some expert.


  • What are the consequences of this conflict? It is important to be well prepared and understand exactly what could be put at stake not only due to the conflict per se, but also after its resolution. Explore the potential risks, overview of all the positive and negative consequences, evaluate them in advance and try to ensure that the way you will choose to manage the situation will have the best possible results. You should always keep in mind that a conflict is never only about the parties directly involved – it might affect the rest of the team, unbalance the team dynamic or even shake the trust and the coherence of your group. Better be prepared and have a plan B, than be surprised with unexpected and unpleasant circumstances.