“How can I get my players to communicate better with each other on the pitch? They are so quiet during matches that it really costs us…”
Communication is key for any team setup, but there are some very good reasons that kids will often stay quiet during matches. Sometimes they feel embarrassed at speaking up and ordering team-mates about, while at other times they’re worried that what they’re saying might be wrong.
Often they just let the coach do the communication for them. Being vocal and communicating with each other on the pitch is a habit and something that will come over time, but there are certain things you can do to help players on their way. The first thing, of course, is to explain the real benefits of linking verbally with one another.
Show them how much better a team is when players have the support of their team-mates who are ‘looking out for them’. And in training, try to encourage all of your players to compliment or applaud teammates who score goals, or who make tackles or spray attractive passes around – this helps to remove the stigma of being a bit vocal in front of their team-mates.
Try suggesting that one player in each area (defence, midfield, attack) assumes the role of the ‘talker’ – after you’ve tried that, give someone else the role five minutes later. And going back to the start, keep quiet yourself! A good coach actually doesn’t ‘coach’ during a match – he just lets his players get on with it.
Finally, remember that sometimes players are just quiet because they’re tired and can’t quickly construct what they want to say, so use your substitutes wisely. Good communication on the pitch won’t come overnight, but you will certainly see an improvement in how your players talk to each other quite quickly by using just a few of these easy measures.
You can use a session like CONTROL THE GAME from my subscription magazine Soccer Coach Weekly and ask your players to call out the name of the player on the ball with every pass made, to help them get used to talking on the pitch.