People set rules to keep from making decisions.
There are several directions we could take a conversation on this idea. Over-coaching or too narrowly defining roles to alleviate or limit player decision-making. Stringent team rules that paint a coach into a corner when infractions occur. The exceptions to rules that always seem to arise.
The bottom line with rules is they are only necessary when an absence of truth and trust are present.
This of course goes directly to the culture of one's program, the essence of one's team and the character of its members. If the coach / player relationship is not built on TRUTH there can be no true trust. In the absence of TRUST there must be rules to hold one another accountable.
It then stands to reason, the more rules needed to govern the teams conduct the less trust there is within the program.
Think about that for a minute as we consider there are only 17 Laws of the Game and only 4 of those deal with misconduct and penalty. There is a truthful spirit of the game present in soccer. Participants trust the spirit of the game will be adhered to. This is why soccer purists become so upset when an athlete "flops" on the pitch.
I put to you when the culture of a team is built on truth and trust it becomes much the same as the spirit of the game. No one wants to break the sacred bond of truth and trust because to do so one dishonors their teammates and coaches.
It's only when team standards are built on less than full truth and trust that rules for conduct become necessary. The reason for this can be found in a single word - Respect. Truth and Trust mandate respect for one another. Honor, in all its definitions is prized.
I recall as a young coach setting rules to address the comportment and deportment of a teams behavior. It quickly got out of hand as each new transgression required addressing. Caught up in the moment I failed to recognize the truth of what was happening - an assistant was openly sabotaging the culture of the team with designs on overthrowing me as head coach. The truth eventual came out. The core of the team survived and eventually went on to great success.
If a third word should be added to Truth and Trust it would have to be Forgiveness. When participating in a match we often hear a player claim his mistake by saying "my bad." We do not do this on my teams. We give a call of "next play!" Embedded in Next Play! is forgiveness of the mistake just made. It communicates to the transgressor to put the mistake in the past and continue playing in the present. Addressing the reason for the mistake can take place in the future. It's a very honorable means of communicating truth, trust and forgiveness.
Team rules and role identifications must be built on the same foundations. Actions and deed must be truth based for trust to be established. Ownership of individual decision making must be granted and accepted. Recognition that mistakes will be made is imperative. The consequences for mistakes must be understood - in a match a mistake might result in lost possession or even a poor result. This is okay within the culture of Truth, Trust and Forgiveness. The same should hold true in the larger environment of the team and program. Mistakes will be made. This is not open to debate. What is open to debate is how mistakes will be dealt with. This is where a culture based on Trust, Truth and Forgiveness is far superior to one based on rules and narrowly defined roles.