Welcome to the fourth instalment of the Pre-Match Preparation Guide. Over the last few weeks, I’ve discussed how to optimise the morning of your match day with regards to food, drink and psyche-up music.
This week is all about being inspirational; it’s about delivering a speech that will motivate your team to fight for every tackle and for every header, in order to maximise the likelihood of your team being victorious. This week, I’ll be trying to create the recipe for the perfect pre-match Team Talk.
Pre-Match Guide: Week 4 – Inspirational Team Talks
There is surely no better way to introduce the topic than with a clip of one of the most famous motivational speeches of all time, from the film ‘Any Given Sunday’, I give you ‘Coach’ Al Pacino…
Unfortunately, as the majority of grass roots football team talks happen in a tiny smelly changing room, during the warm up, or maybe during a team huddle just before the kick off, you’re unlikely to have the opportunity to use emotional music or slow-motion camera tricks to enhance the inspiration you’re trying to deliver. However there are some aspects of this speech you can imitate on a cold, windy football pitch in the middle of nowhere…
1. Be the Sole Focus of Attention
You have to make sure you are the only thing the players are concentrated on during the team talk. This might be harder than it seems, if you’re outside, players’ attentions are likely to be drawn to anything that moves. Whether it’s a game on another pitch, a ball they’re kicking about, a nearby dog or a group of WAGs, it’s best to try to minimise any distractions.
The most obvious way of doing this is by doing the talk inside the changing room. If this isn’t possible – get the players to face away from any other football pitches, and make sure all the footballs are in a bag, or an unreachable distance away.
2. Sort out Positions, Formations & Set Pieces
The team talk is the best time to let your players know who will be playing where, what formation you are playing and who will be doing what for set-pieces. It’s easy to forget to say who will be taking corners, free-kicks, penalties, and who will be on the posts for defending corners – but letting your players know before the match will eliminate any confusion during the match.
3. Don’t Over-Complicate Tactics
There is no point confusing your team by introducing complex analysis of how you want them to play minutes before kick-off. Coming up with a few easily understandable tactical ideas can prove to be most effective. What is your mindset when in possession? Are you playing slick passing football, or will you be hitting the target man at the first opportunity? Also what is your mindset when out of possession? Will you be closing down fast and making tough challenges, or will you be standing off?
4. Build Up to a Climax
How you finish the team talk will leave an impression on the players as they go out to play. If you end on an anti-climax, the players’ morale will likely be low, if your speech builds and builds up right to the end, the players will be buzzing, and it’s very likely they’ll carry that adrenaline onto the pitch and perform that bit better.
Inspiring your team with a positive team talk is one of way of making sure the team starts in the right frame of mind. You don’t need to go for an emotional Hollywood style speech every week, but getting your points across clearly and passionately to a listening team will significantly improve the chances of them performing the way you want them to. Inspire your players with your tactical insights and let them know they can win if they put in that extra bit of effort to get that inch…Now, what are you gonna do?