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The (almost) perfect circle

The (almost) perfect circle

How to arrange players during explanations so as to give them equal values and detect their signals

Let’s continue to deal with non verbal communication and how our small expedients can make a real difference between a good and bad group dynamics.

In this article we are going to discuss equal distance, that is, the correct distance that must exist between the coach and his players in specific moments during the match and practice.

This is one of the issues that we might take for granted, or mere good sense  should make us understand. And yet, I know from my own experience today and as a player that a coach often leaves the players’ arrangement to chance during an explanation, a meeting or in the short time available between halves.

Let’s consider this last situation, occurring in every match: the quick exchange (unidirectional or bidirectional?!!!) between the first and second halves in the locker room. This is the time to recover energy, take a pee, realize how it’s going, maybe make some tactical change... a lot of emotions and thoughts around, more or less constructive and rational... the time available is just a few minutes.. effective communication is absolutely necessary and often this s the right moment to inspire confidence and decisiveness to the players.

Just a few simple, direct, positive words (we have talked in detail about verbal communication in the past few months) spoken to our players paying attention to a correct use of space. Why? We can understand it with the help of a practical example on which we’ll make a few points. As usually, putting ourselves in the shoes of others will help.


Let’s suppose that while I am speaking some players are at a personal distance, others at a social distance, others are behind a teammate (see the last 2 articles on proxemics): can you tell me that you see a team in this situation, even visually?)

Are you talking to your team or to the 3-4 players closer to you? And the others? How do they feel? Equally considered and concerned? Does everybody gets the message that you all are there to play hard to win the game? Or maybe someone that has got more pull than others?

And then, are they listening to you? Can they hear you well? How can you get their feedbacks if they are far or hidden behind other players?!?..

distanza calcio cerchioOn the contrary, arranging the players at a same distance trying to form an almost perfect circle (a few dozen centimetres make no difference) contributes to create the right situation to:
  • make everyone feel equally important;
  • make everyone feel equally involved;
  • make everyone feel a member of a team;
  • improves team building;
  • Allows the coach to have the players under control to read non verbal feedback (puffs, shaking heads, etc.);
  • Allows the coach to draw greater attention from the players and verify their level of attention;
  • Faciltates communication (you don’t need shouting, repeating, etc.);
  • Improves communication exchange (we recall that communication is a circular process)

We can form a circle, a horseshoe, etc. , the point is that players stand side by side as much as possible, without any overlaps that could be interpreted also as moral or value-base overlaps, and would cause great damage to the group in which I want to inspire mutual confidence and esteem.

A last and most important remark: it’s evident that equal values and equal opportunities for play do not lay primarily in the right distance between me and my players but rather they must be well rooted in my mind.


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