Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Why Gerrard is a good half-time team talk

dave clarkeI 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

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