I have always been very clear that a coach needs to paint a picture when communicating with athletes.
Don’t just say a word like hustle or a phrase like change your pace, but paint a picture of what that looks like. Use names. Add context on the field.
Otherwise each athlete on your team will use his picture or her definition and you will lack the organization and cohesion that you are after.
Today I read a blog post that reminded me we each should be as attentive to language with staff.
Marcus Walfridsen writing at his own website has a nice reminder up.
Now, imagine that you are part of a coaching staff and your head coach talk to you in general non-contextual terms, saying for example ”be sharp in your coaching today” in the staff meeting before the training session. What does that mean? How will you be able to deliver a high-quality training session when you do not know what the head coach wants? This problem is only made worse by the difference in coach education between countries and the terminology that can differ even between coach educators in the same federation. The consequence is that when you have received your coaching license and arrive at the staff meeting you have the same amount of different interpretations of the same word as there are coaches in the room.
Of course we each “know” this, but have you been as diligent with staff as you are with your team?
Each miscommunication or failure to be on the same page is confusing for everybody, the head coach, the staff and the players.
Walfridsen even suggests we go over important common language with our staff on a regular basis.
These guidelines can be things as making sure everyone speaks action language, only use terminology that has already been explained and understood by everyone, and most importantly say what you really mean all the time. Make sure to repeat this process a number of times during the season to keep everyone of your coaches on the same page.
This is an excellent suggestion and one I intend to incorporate systematically into our process.