By Søren Schamberg -
Communication can be a difficult thing to decide on when working with growing a team, but one thing is for certain and that is everyone needs to know what each of their teammates mean when trying to communicate in game situations.
The simple game of Tic Tac Toe can help open up the need for proper communication and help the team develop their own way of communicating with each other. It is also a great arrival game before practice or pre-game warm up because it is fast, competitive and vocal.
This is easy - using the same colored cones, lay them out in a grid pattern, approximately 15 yards by 15 yards 3 in each row.
Then create two piles of pinnies, three pennies in each pile of two distinctly separate colors at the bottom of the grid. This will be the beginning of the lines of two teams.
Now separate the players into two teams, relatively even. If playing with odd numbers, players can go more than one time per round and might I suggest that coaches can also join in for the fun too.
This is tic-tac-toe so the rules are the same - three pinnies of the same color vertical, horizontal or diagonal wins the turn.
On the signal from the coach, the first player in each line will sprint to the pinnies designated for their team, grab one, then race to place them on a cone that does not have a pinny on it. That player then sprints back to the line and when they pass the next player in their line, that player can then sprint to grab and place the next pinny to place on the next empty cone. This repeats until you have 3 pinnies horizontal, vertical or diagonal on the grid of the same teams color.
Teammates can help their team decide which cone to place the pinny on by instructing the next player in line.
If all three pinnies, have been placed and none make a tic-tac-toe, then the next player sprints out and can move a pinny from one cone to another available cone until there is a winner.
When introducing this to a new team, don’t instruct them on how to communicate to one another, let them naturally do it and more than likely you will have a few rounds of yelling and screaming and confusion. After a few rounds, ask them a question such as “what would make this easier for the person placing the pinny?” or “Is it helpful that everyone is shouting something different?”
Hopefully your players will have the “AHA” moment that being clear and directional makes it easier to understand, they may even assigned a direction and number to the cones - Right 3 for the 3rd farthest cone on the right side or L1 for the closest cone on the left side.
With players facing the grid, they can also practice making decisions that may go against the directions of their teammates because the field of pinnies changes that fast.
An additional variation that can be introduced is to have the next player turn their backs to the playing field and the player behind them in line gives them directions on when to go and where to place the pinny.
Have fun with this one, it can get exciting and I have played a number of sessions that have gone longer than planned with my players to lighten the mood the practice after a tough game or just to break the routine up a bit.
By Søren Schamberg -