If you can’t communicate successfully to your players then can you coach them ? In all team sports the art within the art is being able to communicate to the whole team but also directly to the individual player.
Below is a selection of ideas that come from the Player Development Project and a discussion with Arthur Brammer who is predominantly a Soccer coach with academy experience both in the UK and the US.
How are you communicating with your players
Regardless of the age or skill level of your team everyone values and works better if there is a genuine connection between player and coach. Do you know how they learn best or what motivates them on and in some cases off court ?
Are you getting around the whole group. Its very easy in a session to focus in on a handful of players and you might get to the end of the session and not have spoken to 2 or 3 bar a shouted command during a drill. Make it a goal to touch base with each player every session even if its just a fly by during the session, in the introduction or the summary.
One example Brammer talked about was the “handshake rule” where at the start and end of every session you would shake hands, say hello and say goodbye. This could be modified into a fist bump or a high five or any form of hand signal you want but it provides the opportunity to communicate.
When are you communicating
Think about your last session was the ball in the players hands and your mouth closed for 70% of the session at least ? If so, well done! If not, were your interventions too long ? Can you aim to keep them a minute or less and then get back to into activity ?
Some of this will come down to planning and making sure you have sessions that are simple and have flow. This means designing your sessions so that players aren’t waiting for you to set them up or having multiple drills that require complicated explanations ?
Also after a drill or scrimmage, put it on the players to talk first. They heard your voice at the start.
Always remember to try and finish on a positive as well and make players excited for the next session.
Are you asking the right Questions ?
The simple answer is, there is no right question. Often the greatest results come from asking a simple question and then reaching and answer from discussion and deep communication.
As a coach if you have one or two key points you want to make sure you hit and then use “open” questions (can’t be answered with yes or no) you will be able to facilitate player led discussions that will consolidate and cement long term learning.
Its easy to fall into a cycle of asking questions without purpose and often it is the skill that even the most experienced of coaches catch themselves doing when they review their own interactions.
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