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Winning body language

Hand of good

“A simple way to inspire your team during a team talk is to use open-palm hand gestures, to show your own openness and belief in your players’ abilities,” says Phipps. “Palms down or hands out of sight are often associated with lies and deception. Such body language can send the wrong signals subliminally, even when the words you’re using are positive.”

Pat on the back
“Another affirming tactic to use on your team is ‘anchoring’. Every time a player does well on the field, praise them for that specific thing,” explains Phipps. To ‘anchor’ the positive feelings, give them a pat on the back or shoulder. “This will underline your praise so that when you want to trigger that emotion of positivity again – perhaps when they’re going through a patch of bad form – tap them on the back or shoulder again as you talk them up before going out to play.”

Chop and change

“Eye contact is also very important when giving the changing room chat,” says Phipps. “Engage with each and every player, but hold the gaze of those you want to do specific tasks on the field. Instead of using open palms you now need to use a pointed finger or a straight hand chopping action. This will emphasise that you’re cutting through any previous failures.”


Robert Phipps’ book Body Language: It’s What You Don’t Say That Matters is out now (£12.99)