At a certain point, you as a coach should start establishing roles, making sure that every position is earned and rationalized.
Your methods may vary, but in my opinion the key is to first identify the leader(s) of the team. I believe it is always best to start with the captains/leaders, and to maintain a positive rapport with them throughout the season. They should be the bridge of communication between players and coach(es).
Keep in mind from the very beginning that the greater your leader is, the easier everyone's jobs become, so it is important that you make this a wise decision based primarily on character and performance.
The leaders of the team should help facilitate this process by accepting the challenge that comes with the highest role. They must not only be respected, but also trusted by their fellow teammates. Once you have solidly established the role of leadership on your team, all the other roles can begin to take shape and prosper.
Although the majority of the responsibility falls on the head coach to decide, ultimately everyone participates in this process. Once this is successfully executed, each member of the team should be able to identify his or her own roles as well as understand that everyone plays a uniquely important role to the team, no matter how large or small the role may appear.
While some roles are easily identifiable, some are not, and require more time, thought, and careful attention. Take the time to understand your players and what qualifications they possess that will help the team achieve success. The idea is to accurately and effectively match their talents with the positions that must be filled. This can be a complicated process, and one met with conflict, both great and small.
It is the job of the coach to make sure that everyone is comfortable with their role, and to communicate to those whose desires or needs are not being met. This may cause some uncomfortableness, but do not be dismayed by tension; instead reach out and listen to the other side and come to the most reasonable understanding.
As a coach, that might mean that you slightly adjust your plans based on a certain player's desires, needs, or wishes. As a player, that might mean that you have to accept a role that you maybe didn't want initially. In team sports, things are not always going to perfectly go your way, but the key is being flexible and resilient enough to persevere through the toughest moments. As a coach and former professional player, I've learned that dealing with these matters head on, right away is the best solution to any potential conflict.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT SUCCESS IS A SHARED EXPERIENCE, AND WINNING ONLY DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THE WEAKEST TEAM. IDENTIFYING ONE'S OWN PERSONAL ROLE WITHIN THE TEAM ALLOWS FOR THE STRONGEST CHANCE TO ACHIEVE THE TEAM'S ULTIMATE GOAL: WINS WITH SUCCESS.
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach