Language of Sports

Language of Sports

Hey coaches, let’s talk for a minute about how we use language in sports. We as humans are able to communicate ideas, emotions, concepts, and so much more through our use of language. But there is a fundamental flaw in our use of language, particularly in sports, and we really must address it. We fail at speaking the language fo the sport we are trying to coach. We fail at standardizing the language of our sport.

What I mean is that we must speak “soccer” to soccer players and “weight lifting” to weight lifters. Speak a language that those you are working with will understand. A soccer player isn’t going to necessarily understand all the muscles they are working with their strength coach, but if the strength coach talks to them in terms of soccer it will make more sense. Same thing in psychology, a sports psychologist can not sit down with a soccer play and discuss psychological concepts with them, we must speak their language.

Imagine going to another country, France or Italy for example and trying to speak English. They won’t understand you nor will they particularly care to try to understand you.

A strength coach or a sports psychologist might work with many different athletes from many different sports. While the concepts and ideas might remain the same the reasons behind doing it will most likely differ. The skills and muscles a hockey player must build could be very similar to those of a soccer player, but no one would mistake a soccer player for a hockey player when they are competing. As such a coach can’t treat them the same in practice just because the skills and concepts are the same. We can’t expect a hockey player to care to about working on his endurance if we are working them the same way we would work a soccer player, nor can we expect a soccer player to care about improving their lateral movements if we treat them the same as hockey players. We as coaches must learn to speak the language of athletes we are working with, not vice versa.

While we are on the topic of language it is also important for organizations with farm systems to ensure that the language and skills being trained on the first team are the same as those being trained on the second team. In the event of an injury or suspension and a player needs to be called up wouldn’t it be nice if they could step right in and understand exactly what is going on without needing time to learn a new system, new terms, concepts or language?