Communication plays an integral role in how a team functions, regardless of the team’s skill level or age. And we’re not just talking about coaches here; effective communication is important whether it’s between coaches and players, players and each other, players and trainers, coaches and managers, the list goes on.

Anyone who’s ever taken to the field knows that communication can take many different forms, whether it’s talking, listening, gesturing, consoling, motivating, reading, writing, teaching, observing or, sometimes, grimacing and yelling. Over at TeamSnap, an online and mobile application to organize sports teams, we know the importance of effective communication. In fact, a huge part of keeping a team organized and productive is communication. Let’s take a look at some best practices for effective communication.

Say It Like You Mean It

Coaches and players both need to be able to discuss skills (the good and the bad, even if nobody wants to discuss the latter), strategies, goals and much more. To do this effectively, it’s important to think about the exact message you wish to get across, then find the best words to do so. Of course, this can vary based on who you’re talking to … the “best words” for your best friend on the team might differ from those for the coach. Developing a rapport with every member of the team, from players to managers, will help you learn the best way to get through to each individual. Some players react well to direct or aggressive instruction, while others prefer a calmer conversation. And remember, no one likes getting called out or ridiculed in front of others.

Say It Without Words

We can all say a lot without ever speaking a word. Hand and body gestures or facial expressions are sometimes more expressive than talking. But along the same line, they can also be negatively expressive. Sporting events are emotional, and it is difficult to mask that emotion. Staying positive is one key to success, so keep positivity in mind when a teammate makes a mistake and your natural instinct is to throw your hands up in the air. A smile and a few claps tells a teammate, “you’ll get ‘em next time,” while frowning or turning your back tells a player, “you messed up; you let me down.”

Say It Using the Best Method

Sometimes, direct verbal communication is best. However, we’ve all experienced this before: It’s the post-game powwow and Coach delivers some information about fees that we promptly forget in the adrenaline rush of the after-game, only to have to ask for a repeat down the line. If a message isn’t received or is quickly forgotten, it was pointless to begin with. Technology makes it easy to ensure your message is received — and can be saved for reference later. For example, at TeamSnap, we provide a private messaging forum to allow you to communicate with your team. We also allow teams to sync schedules, and coaches can send on-the-fly location changes or updates. Gone are the days of filtering through a cell phone contact list to send a mass text!

Remember, a team that communicates is a team that wins games! For more coach and player resources, check out the TeamSnap blog and podcast.

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