Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: communication, match day, team talk, training
By David Clarke
Before starting to talk you need to consider how to make sure your players are listening. Here are some “dos” of getting and keeping children’s attention.
Make sure you have all the players’ attention before you start talking. Off the cuff questions are a good way to gain attention. Once your players get into the routine and realise you are only going to talk for a short time before they will be off and active again, they will settle more quickly.
Following the ancient Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”, the more activity and the less talking the better. Also, remember the 30-second rule: you should never spend more than 30 seconds at a time talking to your players during training.
Keep your chats short and sharp. “Little and often” is an excellent motto. Tell the players one or two things at a time between activities. During a 10-minute exercise you might bring the players in for four 30-second chats which repeat variations of the same one or two points.
Whether in rain, wind or bright sunshine, make sure the players are protected from the weather conditions and can see you clearly. If necessary, that may mean you will have to talk to them facing into the weather.
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Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: goalkeepers, new players, sessions, team talk, teamwork
As a coach, I have to realise that this crushing blow to a player’s confidence and ego doesn’t just happen in the professional ranks; it happens at all levels of the game.
At youth level players are not going to read in the papers that we’re looking for someone new, instead this threat will just appear at training.
At our club, we’ve recently run some trials for new players – some teams are going from 7-a-side to 11-a-side so we need to recruit.
On one of the trial days one of our coaches came to me and said there was a boy I must see because he was rather special in his position. He was a goalkeeper, and we all know how difficult it is to get good shot-stoppers.
There were a number of small-sided games going on and he was certainly impressing – diving at the feet of the attackers, calling defenders into position and commanding his box. However out of the corner of my eye I could see the dad of our current keeper, and he was taking note of my obvious enthusiasm for this potential intruder.
The parents of the new player came to talk to me about their son and the possibility of him playing for the team. ’He would want to play for the A team’, they told me, ‘and expects to play every week’. After the trial, myself and a few other coaches discussed the problem…
Was he a better goalkeeper? At this stage, probably, but in future, who knows? Would he fit into the team? Yes, he was a nice lad. Were his parents okay? Well, there was possible trouble if he was dropped for some games.
Our present keeper was popular, he never missed a game and was keen to learn and progress. His parents were very supportive and had been members of the club for a long time. There was no way we would make him move over for another keeper at this stage in his young life.
We told the parents of the trialist that we would love their son to join the club but we couldn’t guarantee he’d be club ‘number one’ – he would have to earn it. So he would start in one of the other teams but would still be guaranteed to play every week. This wasn’t enough for them so he didn’t join. In my view, we definitely made the right choice.
There is a lot to be said for loyalty and support, both from the side of the coach, and the player.
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: coaching, half-time, inclusive, post match, team talk, words
I appreciated his comment and, listening in on another training session the following day, noticed the difference in a rival team’s demeanor when I heard their coach using ‘you’ frequently when addressing his team.
I’d never sat down and thought about it before, but it makes sense that the players should feel more involved and part of a shared belief by using ‘we’. If I was addressing the team as ‘you’ then I’m not sure they’d feel a part of things at all – you lose the inclusive factor.
In my mind, it’s a very simple rule that all coaches should observe. Being made to feel central to a project is one way to boost players’ confidence, giving them the belief that they are important and integral.
When you think of the role of a coach it is the little things that make such a difference; things that are so simple you may not even give them a second thought. And it’s not just ‘we’ or ‘you’, there are a number of other subtle personality and vocal traits that can, literally, really make your players go the extra yard… and very often they won’t realise they’re doing it!
I made a note to include this little tip in my coaching advice because if one parent can notice the difference between one coach and another thanks to the use of one word, then you can be sure there are a lot of parents (and players) who will pick up on it.
And getting feedback like that is very important to me because it helps me to see how little things can make a big difference in the life of a child.
Try to write down 10 ways in which you would confront or address a situation, and list your typical reactions, in terms of what you’d say and how you’d say it. Then consider if that is the best way to convey a message or phrase a sentence. Like me, it could be that expressing something in a slightly different way could really make a difference, and you’re certain to see the results where it really matters – on the pitch!
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: 2005, AC Milan, Champions League, Gerrard, half-time, Liverpool, team talk
I was reminded of how crucial a half-time team talk is this week… when I didn’t give one. It was a friendly match and at half time I was collared by a parent trying to sort out his child’s registration in the team.
By the time I had sorted him out half time was over and we were back on the pitch. I had done nothing with my team. This resulted in an early goal for the opposition and me trying to reorganise and get messages to my players – essentially the half-time team talk.
The half-time period in a match is not just about refuelling and physical therapy. It’s a crucial time for the coach and team to gather their thoughts and prepare mentally for the challenges of the second half.
Looking back to half-time in the 2005 European Champions League final, with Liverpool 3-0 down to AC Milan, according to his Liverpool colleagues, captain Steven Gerrard was distraught and was ready to concede defeat. Afterwards, all he could remember of half-time was the manager getting his pen out, writing down the changes he wanted on the board and telling the team to try and get an early goal, as that could make the opposition nervous. But Gerrard said he just couldn’t concentrate – but that one thought stuck in his mind.
And they got that early goal and Liverpool went on to draw the game and win on penalties.
Because you only get a very short amount of time tell your players one or two things that can help influence the second half – just like Gerrard and the early goal, and is the only direct opportunity the coach will have to speak to all the players and to influence the second-half performance and result.
What you tell them will, of course, depend on the score and the coach’s perspective of the match. You must also take in other factors, such as the context of the game – eg is it a cup match in which the loser gets knocked out? Is it a league game and what are the league positions of the teams contesting the game? Is one team an overwhelming favourite to win the game? Is the team winning but not performing well?
These will help you decide what to say to your team, just make sure it’s positive. A coach I know once said: “Don’t get too carried away, this lot you’re playing aren’t very good.” His team were winning 4-0 at half time and went on to lose!
Here’s the hightlights from the 2005 European final