Are You Up For It?

Every week it is fascinating to read and listen to pre-match forecasts and predictions and compare them to the actual results and the post-match reports. What’s really interesting is how often expectations do not match reality. Team’s expected to play well, dominate and win, end up losing to a ‘lesser’ team.

A common explanation given for this type of result is that the winning team “wanted it more”, they were more “up for it”. This special ingredient can deliver great results but how do you get it?

Team coaches and managers use many methods to get their players in the right frame of mind and the right level of arousal for a game. One of the most commonly used techniques is the team-talk. But like any verbal communication, it can be either effective or ineffective. Perhaps the most important element of a team-talk is it’s ability to engage all the individuals in the team.

Within any group there will be a variety of personality types most of whom will have their own individual methods of preparing for a performance. Some will silently visualise, some will listen to powerful music and others will use relaxation exercises to calm pre-game anxiety.

Given the mix of personality types, emotional states and pre-match routines present within any team, it is not surprising that team-talks sometimes fail to have the desired effect they were intended to have.

When deciding to use a team-talk, coaches and managers should include a variety of elements:

  • Focusing the players on their part of the game plan.
  • Positive statements
  • Positive stories
  • Voice inflections
  • Personal challenges
  • Reasoning
  • SilenceThere may well be other elements that should also be included that are relevant for the team and individuals within it. Those elements should be known by the coaching team because of their
    knowledge of what makes their team tick.Before you take the field ask yourself “do I want this and am I up for it?”

    Enjoy the game!

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