Communication is an essential part of any organization. In a team sport it’s just as essential, but also more difficult because of the intense nature of the games. We don’t play in controlled settings, and communication is a lot easier in a controlled setting.
One important point that might make it easier to get your guys to communicate is to relate it to their level of investment in the team. Communication is a great sign that you are invested. It’s a selfless act, especially in the flow of a basketball game. It’s natural to think about what I need to do to run a play, to score, or to guard my man. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own responsibility. What’s hard is to focus on your job while also talking to your teammates. It’s a sign that you are concerned with more than just what you have to do, you are concerned about the team. At first look, I don’t think most players think about communication this way.
When I see a player who is a great communicator I know he’s bought in to the team. He’s thinking about more than just himself. If you asked most of your players they’d tell you they are invested in the team and their teammates. But how do they show it? Sure they can play hard and produce on the floor, but those things are not entirely selfless. There is personal gain when someone makes the right play, scores a bunch of points or grabs a dozen rebounds. It helps the team, but it’s individual production. Communicating is a much more selfless act – something that really only helps your teammates and your team. It doesn’t show up in the box score or in your individual production.
Are you a great teammate? Are you invested in your team? You can show that by communicating with your teammates. Have you ever seen a loud player who wasn’t competing really hard? I don’t mean loud like talking trash or drawing attention to himself. I mean loud like talking on defense, instructing on offense, encouraging his teammates. Loud players are usually great competitors, the guys you want on your team – because they are invested.
Communication on the basketball floor is really important, but it’s also really hard. It’s not as simple as telling your players to talk. It’s a mindset that your players are willing to help others and help the team without thinking only about themselves. By relating the level of communication to their investment in the team, you might strike a different chord. Most players want to be seen as unselfish and great teammates, and communicating consistently is a great way to prove it.