Director of Coaching Bulletins
This could be the number one skill players and coaches should improve on in each session. I am
not sure if it is a well-known saying, but someone once said to me: “when you think you have
communicated something…you are only half way there”. In other words, we often assume we
have a clear understanding of a topic or that we have properly shared an idea, when in fact we
have not. Sometimes we talk too much, sometimes we do not talk enough. Sometimes our “word
salad” complicates the situation or is met with blank stares from the players. Sometimes the
words we choose to use are powerful or hurtful or cause shame, guilt, or anxiety. Of course, our
words can be affirming and positive as well. As coaches we have to constantly check ourselves
before speaking so we can be the most effective teacher of the game and be a sensitive human
to those young humans around us.
My general observations among our players is that they do not talk enough on the field among
each other. Or the opposite occurs, when everyone is yelling at the ball carrier which creates a
lot of confusion and sensory overload. Add in coaches and parents yelling and how can we expect
the player to make the right decisions. We need to help players practice clear, precise language,
and teach them how to share well-timed useful information that can help their teammate.
As we know sometimes the most meaningful and effective communication is without words. How
do we stand on the side lines? What is our posture with U6’s versus U19’s? Do we remain calm
or do we show our frustration or nervousness? Player’s often use non-verbal clues when they
work with teammates. Eye contact, a raised hand, a clap, pointing to a foot they want it on, or
point into a space to pass the ball. Non-verbal communication can keep the other team from
hearing what your plans are and may provide a slight advantage for that moment. Experiment
with a few minutes of playing a game in training without words. Interesting stuff happens.
There are typical terms used in the game of soccer and coaches should be reinforcing the use of
this language with our players. This way the players can speak a common language from U6 to
Here is a partial list of words they (we) should be using:
Ball, man-on, turn, back, square, thru, drop, center, wide, up, drop, step, hold, shift
left, shift right, keeper, spread out, press, one-two, away, dummy, near post, far
post, overlap, leave, switch, time.
Love the game!
Director of Coaching