We all want our players to talk more. We all are constantly telling our players to talk more. We can’t really understand why these guys who can’t seem to shut up off the court can’t be more vocal on the court.

One thing I know we are missing – and I’ve talked about this before – is not coaching our guys on what to say. It isn’t enough to just tell them to talk. Tell them what you want them to say. If they are on defense, are they just letting the guy guarding the ball know where they are? Are they telling him they are in help? What are they supposed to say in transition? Start by asking them questions about what they saw, and if they can tell you what they saw, ask them what they think they should have said. If you want your guys to talk more, they have to know what to say.

Another big issue with communication is the difference between confidence and confusion. Confident players are able to talk more. They know what to expect and exactly what they are supposed to be doing. When they are comfortable with that, they can give to their teammates. And communication is an unselfish act, something you do for your team and your teammates. What do people do when they aren’t feeling very confident? They keep to themselves. Make sure your guys are confident in what you do and what their job is to get them to talk.

Players who are confused aren’t going to talk. It’s that simple. If you can’t get your guys to talk enough, they may not know what to say because they are confused. Think about the messages you are giving them on either side of the ball and whether or not it is clear to them. If you are a packline defensive team and you want your guys in the gaps, you can’t also ask them to deny passes or get up on the hip of a shooter. Getting up on a shooter to ride him out is going to take them out of their gap. They can’t do both. But we often send mixed messages. We want that guy in help position, but if he’s guarding a shooter we want him to stay close to his man. The result is confusion, or at the very least a little bit of hesitancy. And if your players are confused, you can’t expect them to talk. They aren’t sure what to do, so what are they going to say?

Confident players will talk more. Heck, confident people talk more in all walks of life. Confused players are trying to figure it out, trying to survive. They are thinking too much about their job to talk. They can’t be loud when they are uncertain.

Nobody talks when they are thinking. If your team isn’t talking enough, make sure you aren’t forcing them to think on the court. Are you being clear, concise and definitive? Do they now exactly what is expected of them? Give them the confidence that comes with knowing and take the thinking out of it. You will hear their communication level increase.

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