I would just like to begin by thanking you for all that you have done with "our" Detroit Lions, this year! It has been so much fun to watch our boys, especially early in the season. I have to imagine that the last few games have caused you some concern though, and rightly so...but don't despair, because I can help you!!!! I work at a preschool, so I deal with these kinds of behavioral issues every year. It's an easy fix, and I am more than happy to share my expertise in this area with you. It might be necessary for you to make a few minor adjustments to the advice I provide, but otherwise it should work as well for you as it does for us! For example, it is important to maintain direct eye-contact when speaking to the individual who is misbehaving. In our preschool that means we must crouch down to look our "littles" in the eye. Obviously, if I were to apply the same principles with your boys, that would mean I would need to stand up on a chair to do so, but, other than that, I think the rules all apply.
In a gentle, but firm voice you must remind your guys that it isn't okay to hit someone just because they take away one of their toys or don't play the way that they want them to. They need to use their "words." Also, this rule applies equally to when they are angry at grownups, or, in their case, officials! It is never okay to hit someone, because you are feeling angry.
Let them know that if they cannot follow this rule, then they will have to remove themselves from that area of play, until they are ready to do so. You must be firm about this, because if you are inconsistent about the rules the whole class/team will notice, and you will lose all of your credibility with them. If they should throw a tantrum, as sometimes happens, you must simply tell them that you cannot address the issue any further, until they can compose themselves. Don't be afraid to use big words like "compose" with them. If they don't know what it means, just explain it to them. I never talk down to my littles. I have always found that it is better to keep your expectations high, and allow them to rise up to them, rather than to lower yours, and miss out on that window of opportunity for a teachable moment. This is also a subtle way to convey your respect for them as individuals, as well as for their intelligence. Make sure that you apply these rules equally amongst all your kids, because if you allow one to get away with it, then your whole class/team will descend into chaos!
Finally Coach, never forget that you lead by example. If your kids see you handling your anger with aggression, then they will do so, as well. None of your words will mean anything if they think you are a hypocrite.
It's really that easy, Coach. The great thing is that you don't have to repeat all this over and over if only you follow through, firmly and consistently, the first time. Plus, you still have plenty of time left in the school year, oops, i mean season, to get things back on track. Then you can concentrate on YOUR area of expertise....how to win a football game!!!!
Best of luck with our boys, and please tell them it has been a pleasure watching them this year!