High-level teams and players consistently demonstrate high-level communication. Players hear how important communication is from coaches constantly, but they fail to realize how much of an impact it really has on individual/team success. How many times are you in practice and the entire team has to run for mental mistakes, lack of effort, something that went wrong off the court, etc? Most of these “breakdowns” could have easily been avoided or corrected with just a little bit of communication.
LEVELS OF COMMUNICATION
There are 3 main levels of communication. Think of these levels as 6th man, starter, and MVP. We label them as such because communication is a skill the better you are at it the bigger your role and impact on the game is.
ECHO THE CALL (6th man)
This is the first level of communication. Many athletes do not talk for two main reasons. One is that they are uncomfortable speaking out. Echoing makes players feel comfortable because they aren’t the only one speaking and they don’t have to worry about looking “different” or “uncool”. The other is that they don’t know what to say. Echoing the call is simply repeating your coach or another strong communicator on the team. If your coach shouts “gap gap” the echo simply repeats “Mike get in the gap, be in the gap Mike”.
RALLY THE TROOPS (Starter)
The next level of communication is to rally the troops. This is when you start the communication. You can bring energy to the gym with comments like “good shot” and also give reminders such as “hands up on defense”. This type of communication will naturally encourage echoes from the lower level communicators, but this level of communication is all about engaging your teammates to get involved by saying things like “let’s go”, “talk it up” etc. You make it a point to get everyone involved.
BEAT THE COACH (MVP)
This is the highest level of communication. Players at this level have to earn the respect of not only teammates but the coach as well. When these players feel and see their team is in danger of dropping off in effort or execution they speak up before the coach has to. For example, when coach blows the whistle and puts the team on the line to run because players make the same mistake multiple times, there is a lack of focus or any other reason 9 times out of 10 no one is surprised the team on the line… so why not speak up and BEAT THE COACH. Talk to your team and get them to lock in and pick it up before it gets to that point. Coaches want players to fix issues before they have to. This is the definition of a “PLAYER LEAD TEAM”.
HOW TO DEVELOP A CULTURE OF COMMUNICATION
“Many times we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply”
Learn Communication Styles
It is imperative that you learn how to effectively reach each teammate based on their individual communication style. Some players you have to keep it positive with while you can be more blunt with other players. Some players can receive messages during live actions while others you have to wait for a stoppage.
You also must demonstrate that you are not trying to demean teammates. Many people struggle to communicate because instead of receiving the message they are more focused on protecting their pride. Players must break down this barrier in order for the message to reach their teammate. It is crucial to build relationships (on and off the court) based on trust and achieving a common goal.
Accountability for lack of communication
Coaches and players must work together to foster a culture of communication. This means everyone must be held accountable for a lack of effective communication.
Praise for demonstrated communication
What gets praised gets repeated. If you want people to communicate positive reinforcement must be associated with the communication.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place”
HoopGrind Director of Player Development | Pro Skills Trainer | Athletic Director | Former D1 Hooper