The Pre-Match Team Talk

March 23, 2017

‘The Butterflies in your stomach, if they’re there now; when we walk out that door, they’re going to turn to dragons because they get bigger and they get stronger, and we use them. And those dragons, this year, I am convinced, are going to breathe fire!’ 

Those are the words of Welsh rugby legend, Scott Quinnell, to his team of budding rugby players from The School of Hard Knocks.

Just reading those words sends shivers down my spine. When you watch him deliver them, you get a feel for the passion and raw emotion, it can reduce even the most manliest men to tears.  

For me, that’s what separates a good team talk from a great team talk; the ability to hit you hard in the depths of your soul. Yes, this all sounds rather deep and meaningful but when you’re in the changing rooms before a match, whether it’s just another local league game or the World Cup final, the delivery of an inspirational speech can dictate just how well you play!

So, what makes a great team talk?

Respect

This isn’t a one-man-show, you’re part of a team, so spare the squad the condescending drivel. Level with them, let them know that you’re going into battle alongside them and with this, demand their attention but earn their respect. Only then will your message really hit home.

Send a relevant message

It’s very easy to get engrossed a changing room battle-cry; before you know it, you’re screaming, ‘they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…our FREEDOM!’ Only to look up at a blank-faced dressing room.

Keep the talk relevant to the task at hand; give your team positives and goals they can relate to but make sure you target the whole team, so everyone is able to feed off your energy!

Positivity

Use your team talk as one, final, method of instilling positivity in the ears of your players, so that when they walk out onto the pitch, the words ringing in their ears are inspirational and not discouraging.

Even if the fixture resembles David Vs Goliath, and your team is taking on the role of the little boy, remember the outcome of that famous tale and provide the players with hope and mettle, instead of prepping for a colossal defeat. 

Language

We all know that a cheeky f-bomb can add emphasis to a speech, but if you’re simply effing and blinding for the sake of it, you’re not going to deliver a clear and inspiring message!

As we said, focus on the positives instead of simply disregarding your opposition with swear words. Iain Macgheecans speech in the 1997 tour of South Africa exemplifies a calm and collected, yet inspiring chat.

End on a crescendo

Just like when you listen to motivational music, there is always a powerful finale that leaves you feeling like you could punch through a wall (don’t try this at home), a speech that grows in both volume and intensity will really hit home and have the desired effect.


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