Communication. We all need it. It is a vital need in our lives. I would guess we all agree on that. What about your team? How important is Communication to your program? Do you have effective lines of communication? Have you defined the proper lines of communication for your program? These are all questions that if you haven't answered you need to answer for the sanctity of your program.
Effective communication begins with leadership. As a Coach you are responsible for the lines of communication; both internal and external. Internal communication is any communication that happens inside your program. External refers to anything outside such as media, sponsors and boosters. Personally I include administration and parents as external. I define external as "anyone who is not involved in everyday actions of the team."
Communication between staff members has to be at a peak level for the team to be successful. Knowing what, why and how is imperative to seamless instruction and implementing of program goals and philosophies. Communication between Coaches and Players has to be open where there isn't any misunderstanding of what is expected from each player. Players should also feel free to talk to their coaches.
Communication between Players is where a lot of teams, including some I've coached struggle. It is a maturity process for players to speak to each other without causing dissent and conflict. Don't let the message get lost in the delivery. Players communicating with each other is what separates elite teams from great teams and great teams from mediocre ones. So What defines Communication; more importantly Good Communication? My friend Alan wrote and developed a great tool for rating a player's Communication. (Link attached at bottom of this post)
Here are my 3 points on teaching communication.
I, just like all of you, have taught and probably were taught to talk on defense through Shell Drill. In my attempt to make everything I do purposeful and practical have reexamined that teaching practice. In my opinion, I'd rather have my players having "meaningful" communication with each other. Having a player saying "Help,Help,Help," over and over is okay, but I prefer for the player in Help to let the player on the ball know who is in help. "Jason, I've got your help." The player in deny position saying "Jason, He can't come this way." Now Jason knows that he has teammates where he needs them. Now Jason can focus on guarding the ball because he knows someone is there. This also causes some uncertainty for the offense. Again, this is just my opinion. If you feel that your players are better fit to say what they are doing then do so.
That brings me to my second point of...
#2 Verbalize Your Offense
Everyone knows the fist above the head is the universal sign for setting a screen. So why not say, "Vic, I got your screen" or "Chris set me one"? Communicating on Offense may be more important that on defense. I'd debate that a team communicating on Offense is more successful than a team that is a great communicating defensive team. Communication isn't limited to talking. Great Offensive players lie with their eyes; sending false lines of communication for the defense while eye-contact with teammates leads to a great number of highlights. When you run your offense in practice, have your players verbalize what they are doing. Every pass, every pick. When you add Defense use the verbal as a tool against them. Have you ever noticed how players change their defensive posture when a teammate calls out "Pick Right"? Use that against them. Want to see your shooters shoot with confidence? Have your passer talk to them. "Knock that down." That shows an invested interest in that shot. It's now the team's shot versus that Player's shot. Talking makes things better.
#3 Silence the Chaos
When things get crazy, there has to be a voice or voices that can silence the chaos. Down by one, on the road, just a few seconds left, you call a zone set and they change to man defense. You can't hear yourself think. Is your team prepared to make the right decision and can your PG or leader communicate with the rest of the team? Prepare for that situation.
This drill will help instill Communication with your Offensive players. Get two groups of 5 on the same end and run your motion offense. Each group has a ball. You can't pass back to the player who passes to you. Do Not Allow a Shot.You can make it a competition to (1) first to 20 passes or (2) a set time. This drill forces your players to communicate while working on your offensive system.
Communication is our job. There are a lot of great minds out there but true genius is in getting that information out for others to use and grow.
Below is the link to Alan's Communication Rating System. Coaches, If you are truly looking for a competitive edge then I would seriously consider attending Alan's Huddle. It's a game changer.
Alan Stein's Communication Rating System