Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why ‘we’ is better than ‘you’

David Clarke

One of my player’s parents came up to me this week after training and said: “What I like about your half-time and post-match team-talks is that you always use ‘we’ when you talk to the boys and not ‘you’.”

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!


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