Putting your coaching under the microphone

In the past, I have been told: “You like the sound of your own voice”.

Initially, I received this as harsh criticism. However, it was followed with: “But, Matt, this shows your passion and enthusiasm”.

It’s then that the lightbulb pinged. Despite the positive slant on what I perceived was a critical comment, I sensed an opportunity to learn.

Passion and enthusiasm are two key elements a coach should possess to help their players. It’s also important for players to see a coach’s love for what they do.

But does passion for coaching have to be displayed by being vocal? When I first received the above feedback, I didn’t realise I was being so vocal. I was just being me, something which I think is fundamental when coaching.

The process made me reflect on certain things – “By talking a lot, what was I ‘trading off’?”, “Did the players need to hear that information at that point?”, “Was it necessary to stop the whole group?”, and so on.


“Without footage, I listen more to tone, volume and type of intervention…”


I also started to analyse what impact my communication was having on group motivation and drive.

As a coach who wants the players to think, do and act for themselves, I wanted the players to drive the sessions themselves. Plus, my desire to fill silences was sometimes rushing and hindering player decision- making.

So what did I decide to do? Well, in a fast-moving world, making use of the time we have to reflect and identify key learning is crucial.

As part of this, I now record the audio of my coaching session – although, as per safeguarding protocol, you should always seek permission from players, coaches and any spectators when recording.

Matt Jones uses the voice recorder app on his phone when he is out on the grass

I do this using the voice memo app on my smartphone, a hands-free kit and a paperclip to attach the microphone to my jacket.

It gives me the opportunity to reflect on what I said and, just as importantly, the times when I said nothing.

Without video footage I listen more closely to the detail of the audio: tone, volume, type of intervention. It also challenges me to visualise where I was at the time, the context and the mood.

I tend to replay the audio in the car when travelling or while out for a run. When i’m listening to it, I ask myself a few questions:


  • Was it necessary for me to intervene? Why? What do I think would have happened if I hadn’t?
  • Who did I interact with – whole group, small group or individual? Why? What is the impact on ball rolling-time?
  • How long did I speak for? Did I give the players the chance to respond?
  • What was my longest period of silence during the session? How did I use this silence? What did I learn?
  • How many of the players did I interact with? Who did I spend the most time with? Was this intentional?


These are just some questions I explore but the list is endless. If you complete the process on matchday it will create different questions given the change in context.

Don’t feel like you have to replay the whole audio and analyse it in its entirety. You can move through the recording at your leisure. Quite often I focus on a 15-minute practice or a single conversation with a player and see what I can learn about myself.

Whether I am analysing the entire session or just one part, I have found recording and playing back my audio, at a time to suit me, is an invaluable part of my own coach development.

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