The pre-game speech is all about energy. Energy is critical for a team to stay united, to perform at peak levels, and to defeat an opposing team. What you are essentially doing during the pre-game speech is infusing energy into your team. It is Newton’s first law of thermodynamics in motion. The language that you use, and the way that you present it to your team, has the power to literally heighten their energy, focus, and performance. The following are a few points that will help you prepare and think differently about your approach to this aspect of the game.
The first step is to realize it’s necessary. Emotional and mental control is key to victories. To be clear, emotional control does not mean less emotion. “The calm before the storm” cliche that some teams use is a copout for about 95% of teams out there. Your job as the coach is to bring out their best. Language is powerful and directly connected with feeling, meaning, purpose. Language is POWERFUL. THe Saphir-Whorf Hypothesis suggests that our language literally affects a speakers world-view and cognition. The right words said the right way can infuse individuals with motivation, and energy to wake your team out of its slumber.
The second step is to realize that it is an art. A theatrical performance. Rhythm, tempo, inflection... it all matters.
The third step is to connect. Remember that it’s not about you, you have to have other-consciousness to connect with others. Be in the room, kook your team in the eyes, feel the emotion, power, energy that is created in moments like this and if you are only centered on yourself, your fear, your insecurities, you are going to miss the true power that a speech can give.
The fourth step is to incorporate the team. Don’t be the pastor...people want to be a part of something, the goal is to get everyone else on the rhythm that you are on. Find your voice, say your part, and then get them involved.
The fifth tip...don’t copy it. Make it original. This is not a law but highly recommend it. If people have heard it before it loses its effect and power. The few times this might be possible is if everyone on the team wants you to do it or if somehow it fits the team’s personality perfectly or is a part of a tradition.
The sixth tip...only certain people should give it. Make sure you are one of those people. If the team doesn’t respect you or what you have to say then spare yourself and the team the painful experience.
The seventh tip...practice, practice, practice and have a plan. Being a great speaker takes time but being able to give a great pre-game speech is a very difficult skill to master.