An Athlete’s Journey with Communication

Unless you are an athlete, most individuals completely ignore communication as a function of sports. The word “function” immediately becomes a way to describe physical aspects. When the image of an athlete comes to mind, for some reason, it is strictly about strength, height, form, body structure, etc. I hate the stereotype.

Communication is the backbone of a team; the greatest athletes in the world have upstanding communication skills. If you are an athlete on a team, or even a coach, here is how you can utilize verbal and nonverbal communication on your team.

  1. Verbal Communication

In the world of sports, verbal communication is most effective when it comes to in game communication. Sports are fast-paced and require short bursts of language. Athletes find the quickest ways of communicating in games. A great way to get a teammates attention is to first say their name, then the action you want from them. In doing this, they know you are talking directly to them.

Verbal communication will benefit your team greatly in preseason; communicate rules and expectations before competition begins. Have an understanding of each player and build relationships with them; when game time rolls around, you know how to effectively grab their attention and converse about what you need from each other to play to the best of your ability.

Everyone acts differently to verbal communication, and miscommunication is an occurrence that cannot be avoided. The most important part of miscommunication is to approach your teammate about it, and use words to work through the problem.

  1. Nonverbal Communication

I cannot stress enough how important nonverbal communication is in all aspects of life, not just sports; 55 percent of in-person communication comes from non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body stance and tone of voice.

It is important to remember to keep an even and uplifting tone when timeouts and halftimes occur. You want your teammates to understand what you’re saying, but also want to come across confident. I am not saying there is not a place for yelling or sternness, but know the line and do not cross it. Everyone knows that in the heat of the moment, communication gets fiery. Be aware of the consequences and address your actions later.

Remember, the best teams in history have the closest bonds and can communicate on and off the court.

“When you understand yourself and those around you, you are better able to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths,” via Pat Summit.

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication,” via Coach Krzyzewski.


Mackenna Drazich is a junior at Waynesburg University studying public relations. She serves as secretary for the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of
America, as well as the administrative assistant for Red Brick Communications. With strong motivation to succeed, Mackenna hopes to be a well respected professional in the field upon graduation. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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