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How to Create Great Pre and Post Game Talks

How to Create Great Pre and Post Game Talks

How and What to say to your team before and after games.

Please remember that EVERYTHING you say and do w/ your team should have a purpose. Coach K and Dean Smith both wrote about how every interaction was pre-planned. The message, location and tone were all thought out ahead of time to maximize the effect. Yes, location matters. Consider the message sent while in the locker room compared to one at the free throw line or bench area. Where do you stand when you address your team? I’ve seen many baseball coaches address teams while the opposing team is doing their pre-game warmups and players are watching them, not the coach.

In all of the books written by the great coaches, they all have the same approach to talks. They have to have a definite purpose and then how best to deliver that message is up to the coach to carefully plan out. All of these coaches keep these types of talks to a minimum. Point being…my sense is that a lot of the half-time and post-game talks are too emotional and we tend to get too excited and say too many things that have an unintentional effect on the team.







Anticipate and plan out your half-time talk ahead of time. What areas will you possibly bring up? Prepare yourself so that you don’t react to a situation and send the wrong message to the team. Be cool and under control. Keep it brief and use this time to refocus on what your team does best. Focus on your strengths rather than what you’re doing poorly. Positive!

Some thoughts and tactics for Pre-game instructions.

Each week I focused on a specific skill in practice. Could be transition offense, rebounds; whatever was the main focus of improvement during the week. Then that became the focus of the message before the game. I kept it short and focused to that skill. “First shot taken, box out your man to the ground! Box him into the bleachers! Box him into the bench!”

You want to give them something to focus on and feel CONFIDENT/POSITIVE about as they begin play.

I feel that too often, coaches try to cram everything into their pre-game instructions and they simply overwhelm and confuse their players. Keep it short and simple. Believe me, the players want to play, not listen to coach ramble on.

By picking specific skills/parts of the game to focus on, you won’t get stale with the “gotta play hard!…” speeches that lose their luster quickly.


Post-game comments

Keep them short. Players are tired and not really focused. Yet you see lots of coaches keep their team for 30 minutes after a game and go through everything. No one is listening and this is not the ideal environment for this type of de-briefing. Write down all of your thoughts and share w/ the team the next time as they are fresher and able to listen. Remember to try to turn negatives into positives and use the weaknesses as sources of areas to focus on during the practice. Again, connect it to your philosophy and how you define success. Did they work hard, play unselfishly etc…?

Key point I want to make is PLAN and PREPARE what and how you say to your team as thoroughly as you would plan and prepare your practices. I caution those of you who want to “wing it” as we tend to ramble on and send mixed messages. Think back to some of your coaches who in the same talk said that the team didn’t play with any heart and then 5 minutes later told you that you guys put forth a lot of effort? Or that you’re playing great defense and then later says that no one is communicating out there?

Also realize that while you may be focused on what you say…the verbal aspect, need to be aware of your NON-VERBAL aspect. Body language sends a more true picture than words. Think about your reactions on the sidelines. How do you react to poor execution? Bad calls and other adversity? Especially for the younger players! Going off on a slight tangent here but the communication skill is vital for successful coaches.


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