Power of Communication


On a recent F.A. coaching course I attended, the tutor was very enthusiastic about psychology and recited some very thought provoking quotes. There was a particular ancient Chinese proverb that really struck a chord and made me think about the way I will deliver and plan any future sessions;

‘Tell Me, I Forget

Show Me, I Remember

Involve Me, I Understand’

If you take a moment to think about these words, it really rings true with any skill, technique or tactic you are trying to teach to a player of any ability.

I recall as a youngster a coach explaining for 3 minutes a drill that a university degree student would struggle to follow, let alone an 8-year-old standing shivering on a cold winters morning. By the time it came to participating in the drill, confusion reigned with players running in all directions – this frustrated both the coach and the players. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and with the knowledge and experience I now have, I can see this was an occasion where if the coach had ‘shown’ or ‘involved’, the drill would have run like clockwork.

The ancient Chinese proverb that is quoted above is also backed up by research that was carried out by Albert Mehrabian, a world renowned Professor of Psychology. His findings concluded that when communication is used, words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38% and body language 55% (i.e. facial expression, hand gestures etc.). Therefore a total of 93% of effective communication is via a non-verbal form. Putting this into a soccer context, this highlights the importance of demonstrations in your session to aid learning and understanding.

Based on the findings that only 7% of communication is accounted to the words that are used, I always try to remember the following – KISS. I’m not talking about the 1970’s hard rock band from NYC, but the acronym ‘keep it short and simple’. This can also have a double meaning that you can transfer to a passing session or game for young players, emphasising the importance of a short pass compared to the David Beckham cross field switch which although effective is not always successful.

I personally feel that it is important to look at the psychological side as well as the physical side in soccer. Anything that gives you an edge over the opposition or gets an extra 5% out of your players is going to increase both you and your team’s confidence, no matter what level you are coaching at.

Chris Stygal, FA Level 2 Coach

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