Coach and player communication

The ways of training and communicating with the players have been evolving. The search for maximum sports performance has banished methods in which players were treated like robots, for others in which they are given freedom of action, in which decision-making and the development of intelligence are encouraged.

What has not been worked on in seven days can hardly be achieved in ninety minutes. For this reason, it is almost impossible to achieve what is desired, no matter how much a coach from the band is hoarse giving instructions or directing as if he were playing a game of a video game.

For the players to do what the coach proposes, it is always more advisable to convince than to impose. The player who plays under impositions, pressure, fear, etc. will never be able to perform one hundred percent. Negative language, on the other hand, sometimes leads to mental blocks. If a striker is told "how bad you are" every time he misses a goal and is reprimanded, it is more than likely that he will end up creating a limiting barrier. Every time he is going to shoot on goal, the first thought that comes to his mind is the coach recriminating him if he fails, that is, he is going to fail because it is very bad, etc… the result will surely be that he will not score a goal.

When that negative language becomes an internal verbalization, (the player ends up thinking that he is bad, he is useless) it will affect performance, since negative thoughts affect feelings and these affect actions. Behaviors are influenced by thoughts.

Language affects self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence are in turn affect motivation. The deficit in these factors produces lack of concentration, stress, anxiety. The coach directly influences all of them, for better or worse.

The language and communication between the coach and the players is essential in the pursuit of sporting excellence. For this reason, it is necessary on many occasions that the sports coaching process begins with the coach himself, rather than in the group.

Let's divide coach-player/s communication into five scenarios:

  • Training
  • Pre-match
  • During the match
  • Break
  • Post match


During training is when the coach should talk the most. Always trying to use positive language. Clear and brief explanations. Correcting and encouraging when mistakes are made. Long explanations lead to losing the concentration of the receivers (players) and giving more information, unnecessary information for the intended purpose.


Before the match, we must briefly recall what has been worked on during the week, what we are trying to achieve. The tactical talk should be brief, the work is already done during the week. The pre-match talk should be mainly motivational.


During the matches, what has been worked during the week must be reflected, you cannot ask for more or less. In current football, decision-making should be encouraged in the player from an early age, so it is convenient that during the matches the players are the ones who decide and the coach communicates with them with two main objectives:

  • Correct positions or modify them
  • Encourage/Motivate


If in 90 minutes it is impossible to achieve what we have not worked on in seven days, in fifteen minutes less. If we seek to get the most out of the group, these minutes should be used for positive and motivational reinforcement. There are many theories, some defend that those minutes should be used one hundred percent. I personally believe that it should be divided into 4 phases.

A first real rest, in which the players rehydrate, lower their heart rate, and in which they try not to talk about the game at all. They are in a physical state in which everything is magnified for the better (if the team is winning) and for the worse (if the team is losing). Therefore, 3-5 minutes of absolute rest is recommended.

A second phase to highlight the positive aspects. Win or lose, there will always be something that is being done well or according to what has been worked for. If the team is winning, it serves to make the group aware that they must continue doing this work. If the team is losing, it acts as positive reinforcement, as a starting point to continue improving.

A third phase to correct the negative aspects. Always with positive vocabulary, and referring to the group. We fixed tactical bugs, technical bugs don't make sense to be fixed at that time. As always, the explanations have to be brief and clear.

A fourth phase that we use to motivate the team.


This talk would be similar in structure to the one offered during the break. Some coaches prefer to give it after the shower, others on the bus and others in the first training session after the game. There are coaches who only give the talk when they win. Others only when they lose.

The ideal is when the team is calm, after the game the sensations for better or worse are magnified. If you decide to give after the shower or on the bus, you should start with what was done well, then comment on the mistakes we have made and finally motivate for the work that must continue to be done. Personally, I consider it a good tactic to try not to talk about it once the game is over, it's the way to end it. And during the week reinforce and correct what has been seen in it. Say nothing, win or lose. But whatever option you choose, use positive language.

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