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Its only words

What are you saying to your players?

Have you ever recorded yourself to get an idea of what you are actually saying?

I say 'check' a lot.

I talked about it in this episode of Heads and Volleys with Patrick King, but what do I really mean by it?


#3 has the ball in his hands. Throw in.

#11 - Check!

#1 has the ball. Goal Kick.

#6 - Check!

#8 - Check!

#7 has the ball. Corner.

#10 - Check!

3 examples, from dead ball situations alone. Then add thjat any time a player has control and looks up, I expect some form of 'Check!' behavior, especially as I push toward an attack built off of the #9. However, all of the situations are completely different and warrant their own descriptions.

So what am I doing about it?

I took some time to identify what it was that I wanted to see in the 'Check!' moments. I also asked the players what they thought we could do in specific moments / situations. Then, whether on TacticalPad or in practice, I showed the players the movement and we created a name for it. Now, that name means so much because I understand what it represents, and the players have brought into it with their own thoughts as well as the naming of the movement we are looking for.

- think Coach Carter and the team running 'Linda' on offense. However, we're not trying to disguise what we're doing on purpose, but simply giving ourselves a valuable cue that identifies a specific behavior and aids the players in their ability to create space and keep the ball.

Think about your own common language and what you really want it to mean. Take the time to assess and apply. Involve your players - their ownership of the process ensures it succeeds.

Ready to go one step further? Then also think about parents that may be yelling 'energy' or 'work harder' or my new favorite 'press'. What do they mean and what are they expecting from that command? Every advice column will tell you to curb their coaching and give them a bag of peanuts to keep quiet, but an engaged coach could engage the parents and consider what they think, gather an explanation and perhaps apply it, then give them peanuts...


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