How to create great conversation

Updated: Feb 13

Coaching is all about people and with that comes conversation but in a hectic and chaotic world of distractions in a technology-driven age, it is becoming harder and harder to create conversation. Creating opportunities for players and coaches to have conversations is the big one. Are we creating space in the session to have conversations? What are you doing around ‘downtime’ periods to create conversations? Who are you sharing conversations with?

Players want to play the game but tactically using the time in and around this is golden. Leaving questions next to the water bottles during breaks or transition times or post-match teas with the opposition. Maximising the time to get meaningful and productive learning from our experiences.

Select your questions wisely! Consider who is in front of you, where they are and where they need to be. Think about what you what information you may get back from asking a certain question. Stay curious with open ears to use responses to influence your future decision making.

Putting a question into the playing group before an element of a session of before a game to influence the behaviour of players and impact the quality of response to that question after. This would begin to support players in building links and connectivity between their in-game actions and decisions.

I think it's important you have a dialogue with players, try to know how they're feeling and what emotions they're going through in certain situations.’

Alan Pardew, West Bromwich Albion (, 2017)

The conversations can reveal information and spark reflections to better understand both the person and player in front of you. Asking players to reveal a Reflection MatchPlay Card from the deck during a team meeting allows coaches to hear the stories that otherwise may go amiss (Shoutout to Mark Egnar at Dartmouth College Field Hockey for that one!).

When we ask questions our minds begin to dive into our library of experiences and knowledge, even more so when we ask questions that people will enjoy answering. It is worth considering when and in what tone we ask our questions, players will often be more forthcoming when we ask questions informally rather than in a military-style and authoritative approach. What may like this look in coaching setting?

- During rest or transition phases

- Settings away from the pitch

- Player driven team meetings

- Whiteboard mind mapping

- Small group sessions

We designed Reflection MatchPlay Cards for all of these reasons, pilling all of our favourite conversation starters into one big deck of cards, where the answers to questions can’t be yes or no but rather responses generate conversation to wrap experiences together and support futures performances. We all have the answers but need to be asked the right questions!

Kick start a conversation and grab your Reflection MatchPlay Cards now:

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