Often what distinguishes a good coach from one that isn’t as capable isn’t their knowledge of the game – most tend to go to the same courses and have access to the same information – but their ability to put their message across. Because ultimately it isn’t important how knowledgeable each individual coach is, what is important is how much of that knowledge he can transfer to the players in his charge.
Yet that step in the coaching process often tends to be forgotten or overlooked. Indeed it is often assumed that a coach will be able to deliver his sessions in an effective manner. To be fair, this isn’t something that happens only in football: in corporate culture, for instance, it isn’t uncommon to see people who were very good at their job getting a promotion only to then fail miserably because they weren’t capable of delegating work to others or explaining what needed to be done.
It is why there is a whole industry that provides leadership seminars.
Not in football, however, where the problem tends to be ignored.
It is for such reasons that books like Let’s Talk Soccer by Gerard Jones are important. It provides coaches with a set of ideas and templates for how to communicate during their sessions that will help them look at what they are currently doing and then identify what they could be doing better.
Some of what Jones says might appear obvious - for instance, the starting point for every coach is to determine what his ideas are so that he can better frame the messages he wants to put out – yet that does not mean that such practices are common place. Often, coaches have a rough idea of how they would like their team to play but not really a solid overall view that incorporates different scenarios and talent level. Without such a clear idea, it is difficult for the message to be anything other than confused.
In general, however, this book is bursting with intelligent and practical ideas. The cornerstone of Jones communicating philosophy is game calls – calls by players to tell those around them what they should do – and this is explained in thorough detail as is how it should be implemented. There is also a look at a number of other ideas like the non-verbal communication of a coach, how a message is delivered and how best to solicit feedback from the players.
In other words, it provides coaches with a wide range of ideas about communication in the game, ideas that will get them thinking and, hopefully, improving how they talk with their players.
If you want to read more on the subject of communication in football, check out our interview with Gerard Jones here.
A review copy of this book was provided by the author. If you purchase the book by following the links in this article, a tiny fraction of the overall price will be given to Blueprint for Football, thus helping in the running of this site.