How do you communicate with your staff?

We have already established that there are a lot of miscommunication in the football world between coaches and players [link to post]. Too many coaches use words that are non-contextual and without meaning and then expect the players to understand what they are talking about. The only logical conclusion to fix this problem is for you as the coach to start saying what you really mean. Most of you will agree to this and have already started saying what you mean to your players on the pitch which is very good. But how do you communicate with your staff?

Imagine that you are in a staff meeting for hours and when you leave the room you ask yourself what everyone was talking about? How many times have that happened to you in your coaching career? Now, imagine that you are part of a coaching staff and your head coach talk to you in general non-contextual terms, saying for example ”be sharp in your coaching today” in the staff meeting before the training session. What does that mean? How will you be able to deliver a high-quality training session when you do not know what the head coach wants? This problem is only made worse by the difference in coach education between countries and the terminology that can differ even between coach educators in the same federation. The consequence is that when you have received your coaching license and arrive at the staff meeting you have the same amount of different interpretations of the same word as there are coaches in the room.

You probably recognize this situation and understand that something has to be done to reduce the miscommunication and increase the efficiency of your communication within your staff or club. But how do you change this culture of saying things that no one understands to a culture where everyone knows exactly what they are talking about? Depending on your role in the coaching staff there are different ways to proceed. If you are not the head coach it could be challenging to change the culture of a staff and a whole club on your own, so the first thing you do is to make your colleagues understand that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. After you have at least one more person who agrees with you and understand that there is a communication problem you request a staff meeting. In this meeting you demonstrate to the other coaches what the problem is and how it affects the performance of the coaches negatively, and in the end, the results of the team and the club.

If you are a head coach you should start every season by sitting down with your staff and discuss how you should communicate within your team of coaches and within your club. In this meeting you as the head coach set the rules or guidelines of your communication in the staff. These guidelines can be things as making sure everyone speaks action language, only use terminology that has already been explained and understood by everyone, and most importantly say what you really mean all the time. Make sure to repeat this process a number of times during the season to keep everyone  of your coaches on the same page. Being clear and concise in your language as a staff will make you more effective, limit the miscommunication that is all to common in the football world and drastically increase the performance of your coaching staff.

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7 thoughts on “How do you communicate with your staff?

  1. Good Article and I do agree. Communication is a part of leadership, and the what, how and whys need to be addressed in a clear manner. If you are in charge of the message being displayed you need to make sure that those who receive it, does so in a manner that protects the message. By this I mean that is is not left up for interpretation and that the leader in any case should have an idea of how the receivers might receive this. It might seem like hard work, but to understand the individual and their process of understanding will eliminate a lot of the miscommunication. By having regular meetings (that I hope are two way discussions) you can effectively create a mutual understanding of how communicating is most efficient within that specific group. Should players consider the same?


    1. Hi Lisa-Marie,

      Thank you for commenting!

      For me, the first thing is to make sure everyone knows what they are talking about. For both coaches and players it would be a good idea to sit down and go through the terminology that will be used and also agree on a structure for communication on and off the pitch. This way everyone understands what the words mean (terminology) and there is less chance of anyone being insulted (structure) when receiving feedback. This process should be repeated a couple of times during the season to ensure that everyone is on board.

      This is certainly also the case between players on the pitch since the verbal communication needs to be short and clear.

      Thank you!


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