Playing a team sport can help you to develop skills in various aspects of communication. The most notable of these is social communication. Team sports often requires you to consistently communicate with your teammates to optimise the team’s chance of success, so it’s no surprise that regular involvement in team sports could enhance your social communication skills. Since individuals communicate in different ways, we learn to become better social communicators by adapting our communication to best suit the style of communication of each individual we interact with. Other areas of communication we can improve by participating in team sports are: giving and following directions, listening skills, production of clear speech, and nonverbal communication.
In addition to improvements in personal communication, improvements in team communication can also assist your team to perform better on game day! Higher social cohesion and effective communication can lead to positive outcomes in team performance.
The fast pace of competitive sports requires communication to be prompt, concise, and specific. I encourage you to communicate openly and honestly with each other and with the coaches. Communication should not only be focused on results, but also on effort needed to attempt goals. In addition, try to maintain consistency in the use of body language, expressions, and gestures used on the court or field to maximise efficiency of communication and ensure games run more smoothly.
At times, team sports can be frustrating and cause us to communicate in negative ways with our teammates, our coaches and even the referees.
So, how can you keep your communication ‘cool’ when you’re playing in competitive team sports?
You can keep your communication ‘cool’ in a number of ways. Since it’s more time-efficient to use short commands in fast-paced situations, I would recommend using gestures or words of encouragement and praise to ensure communication remains positive when playing games. You could also use special in-group gestures to create a sense of unity in the team. For kids, Parents and coaches can act as role models of assertive communication by showing their enthusiasm and interest in the game in assertive rather than aggressive ways. Remember to always use positive and supportive language when cheering or advising your child or team.
What kind of body language will help to communicate with the referee if there is a question about a decision?
Non-verbal communication (including body language) is a very important aspect of communication in team sports. While player-to-player non-verbal communication can have an effect on team outcomes, how you communicate non-verbally with the referee can also have an impact on referee decisions. Respect is always integral to communication, and particularly more so when communicating with authority figures. Avoid yelling at the referee(s) directly or from a distance. Communicate openly and respectfully by asking to approach the referee. Maintain a respectful distance with the referee and present your case or question calmly; and show active listening by nodding to acknowledge their statements. Avoid using gestures that suggest defensiveness or aggression (e.g. by crossing arms, having hands on hips). Instead, use your hands to accompany and emphasise details in your question or case (e.g. pointing out marks on the field or where the ball might have landed).
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