Do your players understand each other?

A number of things caught my attention this week. One of them was a podcast that included an ex-player talking about playing in key games when the crowd was so loud the players had trouble communicating on the pitch, meaning they often got confused when making runs and supporting play. The team had to use a crude form of sign language to help them cope with the problem.

It gives plenty of food for thought… if communication is so important at the top level it should be coached right through a players career including in youth teams. One of the best teams I have coached for communication played their last game for the club this week because they are now going to play for the adult teams. Sadly, I probably will not see many of them again and I have known them since they played for the Under 8s.

What they always did well was communicate on the pitch – central defenders, attacking pairs or midfield cover. They could all use communication to help the team be successful. I use my experience of coaching them with the younger age groups I am now coaching. Hopefully by the time they leave the club they too will have forged excellent relations in the pairs they play in.

Here are some of the sessions I use to help teams communicate:

A simple move like Score from crosses looks easy but it is a great way to get players talking and combining in attacking areas. In Sweeper game if the communication is poor or the defenders don’t listen to their sweeper, the attackers will breakthrough.

“Put information on the pass” is a term you can use to encourage your players to communicate when passing the ball. Find out more at Info on the Pass from my Soccer Tactics Made Simple book.

For the younger age groups, Robocop is a fun walking game that helps make youngsters aware of their team mates and gets them talking to each other.

For something a bit more complex try Four team dribble, which I consider to be the ultimate team game as players must work together to navigate through the chaos.

Finally, small-sided games like 2v2 around the world are brilliant for getting players to understand that constant communication is essential to keeping the ball and scoring goals.

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