What language?

When you are coaching at a club you might have a lot of resources at your disposal in the form of coaches and other people who come from outside football. The reason all of the coaches and people from outside football is in your office is because they are supposed to help you and your team. These people from outside football might call themselves different things like ”mental coaches”, ”strength and conditioning coaches”, ”performance analyst” or something else that they invented in a university hall.

It’s important to remember that all of these people are there to help your players improve and perform to increase the chance of winning games. However, this may not be the starting point for these different people from outside football. There is a risk that they step into the football world with  their own motives for using their speciality with your team. Without understanding the context of improving players, they may implement ’improving their own speciality’ with your players. Instead of contributing to the improvement of the team and the football player, these people from outside football are improving their own speciality / technique / niche and using the players as tools to reach their own objective. This is a problem since it should be the other way around; the objective is to improve the team and the players, the tools are what this specialist from outside football brings to the table and the football coach is the one who decides which tool to use at what time.

The most intriguing question is how it’s possible that these specialists from outside football can hijack the coaching process and turn players into their tools? Firstly it’s important to understand that these people from outside football may not know the context, they may not understand what football is even if they say that they do. Secondly, these often highly educated people from outside football are experts within their speciality which means that they may not understand their place within the hierarchy of coaching football. This is not their fault since they are not educated in a football context, but an academic context or in some instances, the context of another sport.

What you see is that for some football coaches it is difficult to make these specialists from outside football aware of the context that is improving the team by coaching football. This is often due to the language barrier between the academic world and the football world. These specialists from outside football may use language straight out of the laboratory at the university that the football coach does not understand. This could be intimidating for the football coach and makes it difficult to establish the context. The point of least resistance is to let the academic mumbojumbo specialist do whatever they want in order to reduce the risk of a conflict. This is probably the main reason that makes it possible for these specialists from outside football to hijack the coaching process.

It is your responsibility as the football coach to make sure that the specialists that you bring into the game are made aware of the context and what role they fill within this context of coaching football. In addition it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone on your coaching staff, including the specialists from outside football speak the same language; football language. This language problem is such a big problem that football federations are educating football coaches in academic mumbojumbo so that they have a bigger chance of interpreting what the specialists are talking about. This is of course the world upside down. When these specialists step into our football world, they are the ones that should be educated in ’pressing’, ’passing’ and ’creating space’, not the other way around.

For football coaches who have the possibility to use specialists from outside football it’s important to remember that you are the one who is responsible for making them understand the context. If they are made aware of what their job is they can become a valuable resource with a range of tools that will help your main objective of improving football.


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