Develop Interpersonal Skills

Ian McClurg founder of 1 v 1 Soccer has decided to write 1,000 blog articles (over the next 1,000 days) to share performance improvement tips with players, coaches and parents. The tips will cover all four corners of the player development model – technique, tactics, psychological and physical. Amplified Soccer will share some of these posts on our pages but to get them all make sure and check out Ian's site at

Last week it was reported that Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola has banned Wi-Fi from the clubs training ground in an effort to improve the inter-personal communication amongst the players. Good communication is a very important component for all successful teams, both on the field and off the field and greatly affects the dynamics and overall mood of the team. You only have to look at the strong comrade amongst over-achieving teams such as Leicester City (EPL Champions last year), Wales, Northern Ireland and Iceland (at Euro 2016) to understand the significance of good communication for sports performance.

At the youth levels, it is important that young players recognize the importance of this early on. Professional clubs in Europe that I speak to educate their young players on the importance of being comfortable speaking to other members of the group, members of the coaching staff and the professional players at the club that act as their mentors. There is also an on field requirement of communication where young player’s must be proficient at calling for the ball and providing information to other players during training and game situations.

Research has confirmed that the development of psychosocial skills plays an important role in talent development. Psychosocial development is the development of the personality, including the acquisition of social attitudes and skills from infancy all the way through to maturity. A study by Larsen., Alfermann, D., & Christensen, M. (2012) confirmed that explicit psychosocial skills such as motivation, self-awareness and the ability to work hard are very important to talent development. However, they also concluded that implicit psychological skills such as general interpersonal (social) skills where even more important for young soccer players when dealing with their transition from youth to professional soccer.

Implicit psychological skills are those that are only indirectly practiced and rarely talked about and include:

  • Awareness of team member personalities
  • Wanting the best for teammates
  • Knowing team strengths and weaknesses
  • Teamwork skills – being part of the group
  • Trusting teammates
  • Making your teammate better
  • Dealing with information from parents and school
  • Dealing with information from club and coaches
  • Handing social life and school
  • Socializing skills
  • Making friends
  • Verbal communications skills
  • Sharing information with others
  • Utilizing coaches and experts to improve performance
  • Interaction skills within a competitive environment

Sports psychology tends to focus more on the explicit psychological skills such as self-awareness, goal-setting, motivation and self – organization. However, there should be a recognition amongst young players that being a good person and developing good communication skills with teammates and coaches is a key requirement for their talent development.


Larsen., Alfermann, D., & Christensen, M. (2012). Psychosocial Skills in a Youth Soccer Academy: A holistic Ecological Perspective. Sport Science Review, vol. XXI, No 3-4, August 2012   

Player Tip: Recognize that communication with others is an important skill-set for elite sports athletes. If you are not comfortable around others may a point in learning more about them and engaging in dialogue

Coach Tip:  Give some thought how you can build camaraderie amongst the group.  Talk openly about each player’s strengths in front of the entire group

Parent Tip: Teaching your child to be respectful of their coaching staff, opponents and teammates and communicate openly within the group will greatly enhance your child’s development