Mention the right things in your pre-game talk and the players are likely to remain calm and confident. Mention the wrong things in your pre-game talk and you risk having your players distracted or playing tight. If you want the players to be at their peak performance level, you need to plan the pre-match routine very carefully. Here in this post, we will discuss the dos and don’ts of pre-game talks for a football coach.
Don’ts of Pre-Game Talks for a Football Coach
- Do Not Coach the Match Outcome: It is okay to tell players you expect them to win. But you should not overemphasize the importance of the game and the dire need to win. Anxiety and fear of defeat can easily take over the players, especially the young ones if you build up the game’s importance. The players ought to be focusing on achieving their peak level performance and not be worried about the outcome.
- Do Not Recall the Mistakes: Do not dwell on the past mistakes of the players; instead, remind the team of positive individual performances and positive highlights from the recent games.
- Do Not Threaten: As a football coach, you should never threaten the team with certain consequences if they fail to perform as expected. Fear can at best distract the players on the match-day; they’re more likely to make the very mistakes they’re afraid of making. Some football trainers may think they need to psyche their players before an important game but this approach can easily backfire.
- Do Not Supply Too Much Information: Do not spend too much time talking about the opponent, playing techniques, playing conditions or mechanics of the game. Yes, it is a good idea to remind them of important things such as ‘the referee does not tolerate swearing,’ ‘man-mark the most skillful player of the other team,’ etc. But if you pass on too much information to your team during a pre-game talk, it is likely to occupy players’ conscious brains during the match.
Dos of Pre-Game Talks for a Football Coach
- Do Tell Players About the Process: A football coach should focus on getting his team concentrates on how they should play, moment by moment, in order to play their best. Remind them of what you have worked on as their football coach and how you expect them to play. Briefly explain the game plan and list out the top objectives. Avoid mentioning winning or losing altogether, if possible.
- Do Talk to Some Players Individually If Necessary: The best football coaches sense the mood of the individual players as well as the team. While some players will respond well to a joint pre-game talk, few others may prefer a quiet word before the game begins.
- Do Encourage: Let your team know that you believe in them and their ability to play well. Even if you are playing a team above yours in the league, tell the players there’s no pressure. Let the players know the opponent will enter the field of play either in pressure or over-confidence.
- Do Stay Relaxed: If you as a football coach look uptight or anxious during a pre-game talk, the players are likely to follow your lead! You need to stay calm and help the players do the same. Having said that, you need not refrain from lifting the team’s morale or raising their heart rate by making some hard-hitting statements.
As a football coach, it is your responsibility to deliver a strong message during a pre-game talk that the team can rally around. Get your team focused and fired up.