Most football coaches around the world use their own subjective jargon. During their coaching career, they develop their own terms and definitions. For players this can be very confusing. Every time a new coach is appointed, players have to adapt to new subjective reference and language. But nobody in the football world seems to care about this sloppy and subjective football language.
Objective reference in aviation
In professions like aviation there is a clear universal language. Pilots from totally different cultures are perfectly capable to communicate with each other as well as with traffic control on the other side of the world. Why? Because everyone has been educated within the same universal reference and based on the same universal language. As a result, all terminology and definitions are totally clear. There is hardly any miscommunication. As aviation is a matter of life and death, for everyone involved it’s totally normal to have this universal reference and language. Nobody wants to die or be responsible for passengers dying. So, there is a huge internal motivation to avoid miscommunication and to keep the bar high.
Subjective reference in football
In football this objective reference is missing. There is no universal football reference and language. Consequently, subjectivity is the starting point. Football coaches end up subjectively applying subjective opinions. In daily life people call this chaos. If things go wrong within this chaos the only way to survive for coaches is to blame external factors. Blame something else or somebody else, as long as it is not you. This is one of the reasons why there is a huge blame culture in the football world.
Football coaches step out of their own plane
As coaches often arrive by plane from all around the world to a coaching course I deliver, I often use aviation as a metaphor to make football coaches experience the need for a universal reference and language. I ask them about their expectations from the pilot when they stepped into the plane. Can this pilot use his own subjective words when he communicates with the air traffic control? Can he choose the runway that feels best to him to land the plane? Based on this aviation metaphor, football coaches gradually understand the consequences of their subjectivity. If a football coach steps into a plane, he does not accept that the pilot flies the plane like a football coach. If the pilot will fly the plane based on his opinion and subjective jargon, the football coach will leave the plane before departure. But what the coaches in my classroom are really experiencing is that they would leave the plane if the pilot would fly the plane in the way these coaches talk to their players. In other words, the coaches would step out of their own plane.
Players deserve better communication
So, football is not a matter of life and death. But is this a valid excuse for coaches to drop the bar and to create miscommunication by inventing their own subjective terminology? Is miscommunication acceptable in the football world because normally nobody dies? Or should miscommunication also be avoided for other reasons than just matters of life and death? Would a football world without miscommunication result in clearer coaching and training? So, let’s raise the football bar and start to behave like we expect pilots to behave. Let’s develop a universal Football Theory with universal references and language. That is the least we could do for our players.