Updated: Jun 7
If we believe communication to be a high priority skill for our players, what are we doing to develop it? Does the design of our training reflect and create opportunities to develop such a critical skill?
Consider the impact your coaching interactions are having on players, Next time you say "why aren't they talking?!" reflect on the balance of coach talk vs player talk? If there was to be more player talk than coach talk what would the impact be? Let's dive in and explore 3 ways to grow great communicators...
💡SHARING OF INFORMATION
"They really made us think... We had to communicate a lot with each other to solve the problems" Watford FC Academy Foundation Phase Player
Tradition would say that the information from the coach would normally be delivered through the captain though if we only share information through one person, who else is developing their captivity to communicate effectively? It is often the quiet and unassuming players who have the best information to share.
The game would ask players to share information on the run, whether this is team tactics or what the team opposition are doing so setting one team a MatchPlay Card challenge but not the other asks the team without the challenge card to adapt on the run and think like an opposition player as they communicate to solve the problem they're faced with. You may add the condition that only one person per team can speak, (We've got a MatchPlay Card purely for this challenge!)
In a session this maybe connecting players with their opposing teammate, priming them with a Reflection MatchPlay Card to share their thoughts to stretch and support each other on how information was delivered to support their future experiences.
😴DON'T ASK BORING QUESTIONS
Take your questioning to the next level but remember to use names! The use of direct names invites that individual to share their thoughts whereas asking a question open to the group would often result in the loudest most confident player jumping into an answer. It may be that the person you give the Reflection MatchPlay Card to is either the person who has to share answer the question reflective of themselves or answering as if they were one of their teammates.
Reflecting with others who share different views and experiences creates opportunities to better understand our decision-making and understanding. Having diversity in the group that you are reflecting with creates opportunities to add a different perspective and viewpoint on the topics of discussion.
That feeling when you ask the group a question and you're greeted with what we call bingo buzz word answers, those one-worded responses that don't capture any learning. It is for his reason why we developed Reflection MatchPlay Cards, the ultimate conversation starters.
👀WHO'S ACTUALLY TALKING?
"Preseason we have 10 captains and weekly meetings. We give them some say so they make some decisions and try to get the pulse of the team. I always open up by asking ‘what are our issues and how can I help with anything going on?’' Neal Brown, West Virginia University Head Football Coach
Turning the role of the coach from a problem solver to a problem setter puts players in a position where they are driving the decisions, working together to find solutions and challenged to #ChangeTheGame.
If you weren't there would happen? The players would probably start talking... working on a player first and player the last principle creates a space for players to interact, share and open up with their comments. This may be something you opt to do at halftime with Reflection MatchPlay Cards, giving each of the playing position lines a card to discuss before pulling it back to share their thoughts with the whole group. The coach would preselect Reflection MatchPlay Cards representative of the topic areas wished to be discussed.
Help players open up their mind to access their own solutions first without force-feeding them your solution. Just as we plan our technical and tactical content maybe we should consider planning our coaching interactions. What are you noticing? Where are you looking? What questions will you ask?
Add them into training or on a matchday to create games within games, set team challenges and secret missions. We designed the MatchPlay Card series to support coaches in developing players who can make in-game decisions, adapt ahead of time and think creatively to solve problems in a train