What is the coaching communication loop and how can you use it?

As a coach, how we communicate with our athletes is key. What we say, how we say it and when we say it can all influence a player’s performance.

In this post we explore the coaching communication loop, examining what a coach should say before, during and after an athlete moves, adapted from Nick Winkelman’s The Language of Coaching.

Coaching Communication Loop

While the beginning and end of each training session allows for preplanned messaging, the middle requires an adaptable yet repeatable pattern of communication that can be molded to the learning needs of the athlete. To achieve this balance of structure and flexibility, it is important that coaches have a communication model that can circle the movement, providing guidance on what to say before, possibly during, and after an athlete moves. Recognising the necessity and utility of such a model, Nick Winkelman conceptualized the coaching communication loop in The Language of Coaching, which simply calls attention to the five most important coaching moments surrounding each rep or set of a movement. These five moments, represented by the acronym DDCDD, recognise that, when it comes to teaching a motor skill, coaches will DESCRIBE it, DEMONSTRATE it, and CUE it; athletes will DO it; and both will DEBRIEF it.

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Header photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels