Deciphering Dabo Swinney Coach Speak: The Art of Reading Between Lines

I’ve reached the age in life where I’ve seen it all and have the T-shirt to prove it.

I’ve spent my professional career listening to what my patients were saying only to see something completely different by reading their body language. That’s an acquired skill that has proven helpful.

However, there is something I’ve yet to master, the fine art of reading ‘coach speak.’ Understanding that the real meaning behind the statement is best found by reading between the lines

I spend a great deal of time researching in preparation to write an article by listening and watching interviews. I’m gullible to a fault, so I believe most of what’s being said, rationalizing coaches don’t lie, right?

Well, lie might be a little harsh, so let’s just say they verbally send you down a short path to nowhere. They’ve learned to use masterfully, cryptic messaging. A form of communication that uses all the right words, all in perfect context while saying nothing even close to an obvious, definitive answer.

I’ve got a colleague that is schooling me on this phenomenon. He says don’t listen to their words so much but look deeper. The words, or adjectives used, how many times they are used, facial expressions, and the like. My first question to him was, ‘what?’ However, like any eager student I’m learning what he says makes sense.

Those within the coaching profession ply a precious commodity, information about something which many are passionate. There are real reasons why this is a useful tool. There is a strategic value to remaining silent while dealing with one’s opponents. Think ‘loose lips sinks ships’ sort of stuff.

Dabo Swinney is the consummate devotee to the art. He’s learned to say much with little of obvious substance. It’s a necessary precaution in sport these days. Stealing signals is real.

Some coaches whine about Clemson stealing their signals but nothing has ever been proven. There is value in remaining silent (until the last minute), regarding the status of injured players. That silence is a powerful tool, it gives your opponents little time to alter their preparations for those missing players.

It’s the art of deception and again, Swinney has a doctorate in coach speak, as few do it better. I for one hopes he never changes. It’s as much a part of him as his ‘Daboisms.’

So, going forward, I’ll listen to not only to what’s said but how it’s said, also watching facial expressions, and the like. It’s literally harder than learning Mandarin Chinese but I won’t quit until I master it.

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One thought on “Deciphering Dabo Swinney Coach Speak: The Art of Reading Between Lines

  1. that arti
    cle was a good example of saying little…rick stockstill was the best at doing that…

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