Here’s the latest blog from Jack…
Just a matter of semantics…?
The title of this article doesn’t quite sit right with me. It was the response I was given when I challenged a fellow coach on giving more thought to the type of words we use when talking to players (and one another more generally).
Do the words we use construct the way we feel? Does that influence the way we think? And ultimately, does that affect the way we behave and act?
Personally, I spend a lot of time thinking very carefully about the words I use when interacting with colleagues and players – both collectively and individually. What impact might the words I use have on those I interact with?
To give two examples; one that my colleague shared with me and one that I experienced myself:
More often than not, we will instruct our players that in certain times/ areas of the game, a players role is to be a “ball carrier“. Now, if we dissect this phrase and focus on the use of the word ‘carrier‘, specifically, what is this instructing our players to do? What is their role? How does it make them feel?
The majority of players will tell you that their role as a ‘ball carrier‘ is to “carry the ball forward into the opposition” and “to act as a battering ram“. As coaches, are we happy with that? Could it be argued that this suppresses creativity and decision making in our players?
Now, if we change the word ‘carrier’ for ‘player’, how does this make our players feel? And how does this influence our players thoughts? I would suggest that players will respond with – “I can pass the ball”, “I am a decision maker” and/ or “I am a play-maker”… All of a sudden, our players feel empowered. They feel they have the responsibility to play what they see and make decisions based around the information they gather. They are no longer ‘battering rams’ with a robotic mindset. They are now free-thinking individuals with the freedom to explore.
It was one of the final sections to our warm up before an important game; we spend 6 minutes working through different scenarios on the pitch as a team. For example, “Our lineout on the opposition 10m line… PLAY!”
As usual, I give them a myriad of attacking and defending scenarios, however on this occasion I decided to experiment. The scenario set to the players was “Our line-out on our 22m line“. I refrained from using any words along the lines of “exit” or “get out”(typically what teams do when in this part of the pitch). Instead I said “attacking out“…
Interestingly, the players decided to ‘attack out’ from the scenario and played as if they wanted to score. They didn’t play in a particular pattern or structure with an end goal of someone in the back-line kicking the ball clear into touch. Their intentions were clear…attack and score!
It would be unfair (and untrue) for me to say that our use of language is directly responsible for the mindset our players take into games, week in, week out. However, I firmly believe that the language we use plays a significant contributing factor in affecting the way we feel, the way we think and subsequently the way we act.
What words do we currently use, which in fact, inhibit and restrict our players? What words could we substitute them for? How might this change the way our players feel, think and behave?
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Here’s the latest blog from Jack…