Game Day Team Talks

Last week’s article focused on how to use stats to keep your players engaged during a match, which you can read here.

This week we will look at team talks during game day. Whether you are coaching youth players or adults, it’s important to keep your team talks brief and on point, so I have listed some key things to consider when talking to your team:

  • 3 points/areas of focus MAX! You want the players to be able to take in the information you are giving them, not get bored and fall asleep!
  • Relate at least one of the points back to what you have been working on in training…. have they done it well? How can they improve this aspect of the game and so on.
  • Engage your players. Ask them for their opinions and guide the discussion, if they are younger players then start with closed questions to get things going and then delve further into it. For example, we may have been working on switching the point of attack in training and I may ask if the players think we have done that enough; if not then what are the problems we are facing; how can we overcome those issues and so on…
  • When doing a pre-match or half time team talk, allow for a little bit of time after you have spoken for them to gather their own thoughts and discuss things amongst themselves
  • Get down to your player’s eye level. So get down on one knee if necessary to make your team talks less intimidating with young players.
  • If you don’t have a tactics board then get your vests/bibs/pinnies (depending on which part of the world you coach!) or cones and use them as make a diagram on the grass or turf to paint a picture and cater for the more visual learner.
  • Try to end on a positive note. I know this can be difficult but try and find something positive from your team’s performance no matter how small that positive is to either send them onto the pitch after half time with a bit of confidence or send them home slightly happier.
  • One thing I adopted over the last couple of years is that my post-match team talks are actually much shorter if we have played poorly or lost. Generally, the message would be let’s not dwell on this, move on, enjoy the rest of your weekend and we can discuss this further at the next training session. This means I can provide more meaningful feedback to the players once I have had a chance to think about the performance rather than saying something in the heat of the moment when I may be angry or disappointed. My team talks would actually be longer post-match when the team has played well. The reason I say this is because I want to reinforce the positive things I have seen to the players that resulted in the good performance so that those things become a habit and second nature to them.

Hopefully you will find these points useful in your team talks. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page and let me know what you think.

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