Coaches often talk to players to help them be successful in training sessions or games. The player’s failure may be due to a technical issue or an inadequate decision-making skill. When providing clues about how to face a game situation, a very common resource used by the coach is asking the player to concentrate. However, this action is not that helpful. Instead of asking for concentration, players should be told what to focus on to perform the desired action. The idea is to provide them with the attentional keys to manage their behaviour properly. Concentrating means paying attention to the most relevant stimuli of the environment. It is necessary to guide the player’s behaviour by stating what to focus on. Thus, instead of saying “concentrate”, it is much better to state the aspects of the task or the game the player should pay attention to.1,2
It is vital to know that the attention is limited and is not infallible. 3,4 Players cannot pay attention to all the environmental stimuli and internal states at the same time. They should process the most important information of the environment to take an action and reach their objectives. That is why it is necessary to be careful about not exchanging too much information with athletes. The recommendation is easy: giving one message at a time. If attention is limited, a good idea is using it for the most relevant correction. Giving too much information may lead to a loss of part of the coach’s message and players may end up paying attention to the least important aspect to improve their performance. Each new coach’s instruction replaces the previous correction, especially when working with children and youngsters.
Identifying Useful Information
Coaches should provide information about what a player must do and forget about giving too many clues on what not to do. Instead of warning about the risks of a wrong pass, the negative consequences of a wrong body posture or which type of kick should be avoided in a situation, it is much better to exchange information about what should be done. This will be faster and it will not confuse the player. It is better not to give too many clues on what not to do.
Thus, coaches’ tasks are to properly evaluate each player’s needs and decide on what information to exchange based on what they need the most. If the player corrects and changes their behaviour, you have succeeded. If that does not happen, you will probably need to change the message. You should not ask the players to be concentrated, instead you should state what aspects they must pay attention to to perform better. That is to be concentrated.
Consequently, players cannot enter the field just following the go out and win message. This does not help players to pay attention to what really matters to implement the expected game plan. And this leads to a loss of concentration. We should be clear and give precise instructions about what we want. Especially now that we know what to pay attention to. 5
1 Marí, P. (2017). Liderar equipos comprometidos. Barcelona: Plataforma Editorial.
2 Marí, P. (2011). Aprender de los campeones. Plataforma Editorial.
3 Bueno i Torrens, D. (2017). Neurociencia para educadores. Barcelona: Octaedro Editorial.
4 Weinberg, R.S. and Goud, D. (2012). Fundamentos de Psicología del Deporte y del Ejercicio Físico. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana.
5 Lago Peñas, C. and , Seirul.lo, F. (2021). La dirección del entrenamiento y el partido en el Fútbol y los Deportes de Equipo. Edition of the author.