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Body Posture and orientation can speak volumes

Body Posture and orientation can speak volumes

This article shows how a correct body posture and positioning affects communication in the coach-player relationship
Following on from what we discussed last time about equal distance, I’m going to consider now the correct body orientation and posture to transmit positive, constructive messages to the young players we coach.

For a clearer and more effective explanation I’ll give you a practical example as I often do, drawn from my personal experience as a water polo player.

Meeting before the match: the coach is standing “at the head of the table” so to speak, while we athletes are sitting around the table. So far so good, you may say... were it not for the fact that two athletes were sitting beside him so as they can only see his shoulder, and one was sitting behind him entirely to his back!!

The athletes beside him made funny faces and now and again and grumbled, and distracted us but he couldn’t see them.  The athlete sitting behind him could hardly be called an athlete for various reasons;  what is certain is that that the more or less conscious choice of the coach to accept this arrangement during the meeting could only confirm the idea of poor value/interest/motivation of the athlete in our view and in hers.

And icing on the cake: during the meeting (meetings were always too long, attention dropped inevitably and many concepts were lost) the athlete even dozed off!!


That’s what happens if I don’t place the right emphasis on body orientation in relation to my players:
  • The players out of my sight get easily distracted;
  • Not sufficiently mature/motivated athletes can get distracted by stupid things (funny faces or, like in my example, a sleeping mate) done by those who are out of the coach’s sight;
  • Someone may feel ruled out;
  • Someone may become unmotivated;
  • Some players don’t even listen “I’ll not play, he isn’t talking to me, he didn’t even notice I’m behind him......”)
  • Performance below expectations;
  • Mistakes resulting from losing attention during tactical explanations of play, roles, etc.
  • Impossibility of reading the players’ feedbacks.

If during a short briefing or explanation I leave a player behind me, how could he feel? Are you inspiring confidence and attention to him? Are you communicating that your words are addressed to him too?  “He just ignores me,   he’ll not put me (back) on the field,  I’ll not play,....I’m worthless” How can he listen to your words? Maybe he’ll more likely listen to his negative thoughts...

And, on our turn, how can we understand if he is listening to us if we don’t even see him??!!


Obviously, there may be dynamic situations or specific moments that require a quick intervention, and there is no time or merely no need to create the almost perfect circle I described in the previous article, but this should be the exception rather than the rule resulting from the coach’s ignorance or disregard.


My poor former coaches are now being “destroyed” by me! At the time, though fully respecting the roles and the authority that any coach should have, I just took note of those poorly effective or even deleterious attitudes (both for the individual and the game). I was astonished in the face of the lack of attention for those small details that make up communication (we are learning that they are alot, verbal and non verbal ones) and make the difference between an effective, constructive communication and a dysfunctional, sometimes humanly destructive one.!!


Anyway, I believe that a good coach is not the one that is never wrong, but the one that is not afraid of his or his players’ mistakes, can question himself and improve with humility and humanity! After all, the best people are this way!


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