An important skill for a coach is to be a good communicator.
Illustrate your message
Most people are visual learners.
Stick to 3-4 key points
Avoid information overload “less is more.”
Engage your players
Interact with your players “Ask, don’t tell”
Have a plan
Know what you are going to say.
- Be prepared, take notes before or during the game.
- Have 2-3 key points.
- Illustrate your message.
- Keep it simple. Keep it short.
- Don’t talk too much, your message will get lost in all the words.
- Don”t over react and be too emotional.
- Don’t go for too long or your players will lose interest.
When we think of communication the first word we think of is talking.
We even call them Team TALKS, but we all learn differently. Visual and kinesthetic learners process information by seeing and doing, not by hearing.
Some of your players will need to see a diagram or illustration in order to understand your message more clearly.
Young players also tend to understand illustrations more than instructions, it is important to also paint a picture of the message you are communicating.
If you have access to a whiteboard or tactics board, use it this to illustrate your message.
INVOLVE YOUR PLAYERS
Ask your players questions to make sure they understand your points, let them answer the question to tell you what you already know (“when we are in this position what do you need to do?”)
“Ask, don’t tell”
It is also important to address individual players. If you have identified an issue with playing through midfield, ask your midfield players specifically about their tasks.
If you cover three or four main points twice, and reinforce the learning by asking questions, your players will have much more of a chance to remember them, rather than covering a large number of points only once, and telling them rather than asking.
“The person doing the thinking is the person doing the learning, the person doing the listening may not be listening at all. “
Organise your environment
It is important to remove any barriers to communication, such as sunglasses or physical obstacles. You will notice in the above video the first thing the coach does is remove his sunglasses.
For younger players it is good to be at their level when communicating, which may mean sitting down among them, rather than standing over them.
It is also good to organise your players seating according to their positions i.e. the defenders all sit together. This way you know you address your teaching points to a specific group of players with their full attention.
Prepare your notes
Avoid information overload!
Stick to 3-4 main points and reinforce them with the use of diagrams and questions.
It is important to know what you are going to talk about before starting your pre-game or half-time talk, otherwise it can quickly turn into a ramble.
It is also good to link the past, present, and future. I.e. “at training we worked on….” or “before the game we spoke about…”
The first 5 minutes of the half-time break should be used to clarify your thoughts to identify your key messages, consult with your assistant coach and consider your opponents likely response to the 1st half performance.
Check the well being of your players, are they carrying any injuries? Take a few minutes to get your players settled and adjust your organisation. It is good to take to settle so your players and your team talk is not too emotionally driven and you are able to communicate effectively.
The second five minutes is spent on the delivery of your information. Stick to 3-4 main points, illustrate, ask your players questions to reinforce learning, and give tasks for the second half.
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