The Universality of ‘Coach Speak’

Two years ago Yahoo Sport’s Michael Silver, perhaps inspired by Brendan Fraser’s spot-on interview impression, documented the ‘coach speak’ of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and how his manner of speaking had pervaded the entire team. A few choice examples:

Junior Seau – “We work one day at a time. We’re working today so we can have a better tomorrow.

Tom Brady – “What happened last week has no bearing on this week.”

Asante Samuel – “We go out and play football. We don’t worry about if the media is talking about us. We know we’ve got a job to do, and we just go out and do our job.

US Soccer

This jargon is not unique to traditional American sports.  US manager Bob Bradley infamously holds his cards close to his chest.  In April, Bradley discussed Charlie Davieschances of making the US World Cup squad:

I think in all cases decisions get made based upon a player’s ability to help the team during the World Cup. So we’ll look at everybody with that same idea of understanding the demands of potentially a long tournament, and then making decisions based upon the group of players that you think can help as you move along.”

He went on to give more neutral answers on the chances of Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez:

If a player is playing well, if you think that he’s doing things that will translate well to international games and that he’s at a point in his career that he can handle that type of jump, then you go for it. In other cases, you may look at a player and just feel that he’s doing well but right now this is probably a little bit too much to ask. There’s no set formula for that.

Like the Patriots, the USMNT players channel their manager’s coach speak.  Landon Donovan gives his impressions on Buddle’s form:

Well, you can’t ignore people when they are playing well, and particularly forwards when they are scoring goals in a World Cup year, so, while I’m not the coach and I don’t make the decisions I think it’s clear that he has to be on the radar screen now.”

European Club Managers

A perusal of European managers reveals they suffer from the same affliction.  Current Chelsea gaffer Carlo Ancelotti discusses whether or not his club should spend money during the summer transfer window:

“I think that this club can invest money for players if it is necessary. We are able to do this. If it`s not necessary, we can keep the money.”

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, on the eve of the second-leg of their Champions League semifinal (they lost the first match),  wouldn’t venture beyond the standard tripe:

We don’t know if we are capable of turning this around, but we will give everything against a great team to try and get to the final. Inter doesn’t matter, nor their great coach, nor their marvellous players – the only thing that matters is that we are ourselves.

Thinking Outside the Box

One gloriously refreshing alternative is current Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho. The ‘special one’ (a nickname he gave himself) reserves particular invective for Barcelona, the club that gave him his first administrative job.

On former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard: “My history as a manager cannot be compared with Frank Rijkaard’s history. He has zero trophies and I have a lot of them…”


Any thoughts, gringos? Are athletes and coaches just afraid to give opposing teams locker room material? Is this ‘nonspeak’ a necessity for a public speaker? Why is Mourinho different?  Perhaps most importantly, is Brendan Fraser’s character the greatest interview subject of all-time?

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