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Standardizing A Team Way Of Communicating

by Greg Husak

Different teams have a very different approach to the role of individuals when they’re on the sideline. Some teams like to give the players on the sideline a chance to rest and have them sit in the shade to recover for their next time in the game. Others, especially in the college ranks, can have countless players making tons of useless noise from the sidelines. I think the best teams find a way to keep players involved in the success of the team when they are not one of the seven guys on the field. There are countless ways to do this. 

Offensively, teams usually have a set of phrases that may define their offensive objective. Things like "swing" (the disc), "keep cutting" or (move the disc to the) "middle" are keywords that remind players to look for specific throws or cuts within the context of the offense. These cues can serve as helpful ways to influence the play on the field, while not over-coaching or distracting the players from doing their things. In zone offense, there is a possibility for even more talk from the sideline to help position players or point out something that a thrower might be missing. However, I’ve generally thought that offenses are better left to work without the distraction of a lot of sideline input. 

Defensively there is a much greater opportunity for the sidelines to contribute to the onfield performance. The most basic is to give players "up" calls when the disc is in the air. Putting a name on the end of that up call, is the next step for helping the individual who the disc is going to. The next step is for the sideline to be aware of the defense for that point, as well as the general defensive philosophy. Does the dump defender overplay the backwards pass, or protect against the dump going upfield? Is the marker pressuring a backwards pass, possibly at the cost of giving up an inside-out break throw? If the sideline knows the defensive priorities they can instruct both the dump and the marker about a subtle shift in positioning to work within the defensive concept. Telling the marker where that dump cutter is with predetermined words ("left", "right", "45", "flat", "strike") can make the marker much more effective with simple phrases. 

In the zone there is an even greater chance for the sideline to help. Because of the nature of zone defense, it is possible for a sideline player to talk to a single onfield player for the entire point. Effective sideline communicators will keep a continuous stream of talk to help the player stay with that voice. I’ve also found that a name, followed by an instruction is a much better way to communicate than just yelling instructions. For example, "Greg drop, Greg right, Greg you’re good" tells Greg to drop, move right, and then stay where he is. There are a number of phrases that can speak to specific actions, but each team may have different terms for those. However, the continuous flow of information from the sidelines to the field will help players be their most responsive to sideline communication. 

Finally, sidelines can do a lot to pump up players on the field, or similarly, contribute to the mood of an ugly game. Condors had a simple rule that you don’t talk to the other team’s onfield players from the sideline. If an opponent made a bad call, telling your teammate that he made a great play gets the same message across as telling the opponent he is a cheater. However, by doing the former you are pumping up your team while possibly creating doubt in the opponent, while the latter overlooks your teammate’s play and may inspire the opponent. Sidelines can also do well in creating an intimidating presence with strong communication and forceful encouragement. Just the act of knowing that a teammate is watching me is usually enough to make me give maximum effort and do my best. With seven onfield players channeling that energy, a team can be lifted to a higher level of play.

huddle issue030 Using The Sideline Voice

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Keep It Calm
by Jody Avirgan

Two Things Durings A Point
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Standardizing A Team Way Of Communicating
by Greg Husak

A Strong Sideline Voice
by Tyler Kinley

Tangible vs. Intangible
by Brett Matzuka

A Constant Stream Of Specific Information
by Colin McIntyre

Make It Useful
by Jim Parinella

Sharing The Work
by Logan Pendragon

Assisting The Visually Impaired
by Taylor Pope

It Takes Practice
by Moses Rifkin

Loud + Positive = Good
by Miranda Roth

Provide New Information and Reinforcement
by Shane Rubenfeld

The Zone
by Ben van Heuvelen




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