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Coach sits in circle with team, delivering a team talk

It can be easy to fall into the trap of overloading players with too much information. It’s understandable – there’s a lot to consider on matchday. But less can be more. As for passionate, rallying speeches? They’re not necessary. 

The time before a match is an opportunity to welcome and check in with your team to find out how they feel. Some may be nervous ahead of kick-off. Here, you can seek to understand and help them with their emotions. Keeping your communication positive is important here. 

It’s also ideal to deliver a calm, clear and concise pre-match team talk. As a tip, try providing your players with three quick key points. These could be based on how you want to play or your last matchday and training session.  

If you’re working with young players, you could do the team talk in front of their parents and carers. Your behaviour here – and your key messages – could positively influence them ahead of the game. 

Of course, all of this ultimately depends on the age and stage you’re working with. So be mindful of that and tailor your approach accordingly. 

Here, The FA’s Pav Singh and Suey Smith discuss the need to understand the environment you’re working in and how your players are feeling before the match. 

Time is tight here. Emotions could be running high, too. To help, let players have a couple of minutes to decompress, have a drink and chat amongst themselves. 

Meanwhile, think of the main points you want to get across. Again, two or three at most. Make notes or use a whiteboard to display these messages. This will help you clearly articulate what you want to say. Deliver these in a calm and positive manner – and even open the discussion to the room to canvas your players’ thoughts before heading back out. 

In this video, Pav and Suey provide insight into how they’d approach a half-time team talk.

You win, lose and draw together. You’re a team. So even if the result hasn’t gone your way and the players feel down about it, stay calm and positive when giving your full-time team talk. 

Use this time to consolidate the whole day and link back to what you’ve been working on in training. Then discuss, as a group:  

  • What have we done well today? 
  • What could have gone better? 
  • What two things will we try to put right for next time?

It’s important to give players a voice. It’s their game, after all. 

And remember, always try to end on a positive note and take time to reflect on the day yourself. 

Here, Suey explains why that reflection time is essential before giving any feedback to parents and carers.