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AFM Magazine

A New Way to Communicate

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Amos Alonzo Stagg used a megaphone to convey instructions to players during practices in the early days of the game. Countless coaches have barked orders into bullhorns so they’d be heard by players 20, 30 or 40 yards away on the practice field.

Many coaches, however, still rely on yelling, which can be an ineffective way to teach or motivate individual players. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith have each demonstrated that a calmer, more educational approach to coaching can motivate players and lead to success on the field. Yelling can also be dangerous, according to Head Coach Harry Welch of California State Champions Canyon HS. “I’ve had two procedures on my vocal chords and would say that my voice is at risk,” said Welch.

As long as football has been played, coaches have struggled to find the ideal way to communicate with players on the field during practices. With players spread out over the field, getting and holding their attention can be a real challenge. Even more frustrating can be the inability to communicate one-on-one with individual players; providing specific information and tips to a position player without disrupting the rest of the team.

Mark Reeve, Head Coach at Cuero (TX) High School, a 2007 inductee into the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Honor, has found a better way to instruct his players on the practice field. He uses Telcommand; the coach-to-player communication system that allows coaches to instruct individual players on the field anywhere, anytime. “Coaching is teaching, and Telcommand has allowed us to extend our teaching time into areas that we had not been able to before,” said Reeve.

Telcommand makes practices more efficient and effective through better communication. There are two basic components: the Coach’s Unit, which is a headset transmitter and the Player’s Unit, which is a receiver placed in a sleeve that’s worn on the players arm. With a press of a button or with voice activation, a coach can communicate directly to an individual player on the field; giving instructions in a normal speaking voice rather than yelling from the sidelines. The applications are almost endless – with up to 14 channels and a range of 200 yards, every position coach can be communicating and teaching their players, both starters and backups, before and after every snap of the ball.

Coach Reeve, who has a career record of 156-31-4, has seen the benefits of Telcommand first-hand. “Telcommand has allowed our offensive line coach to have voice communication with his linemen and not disrupt the flow of practice,” said Reeve. “He can talk to them about splits, calls and watching guys coming off the edge and remind them what to look out for in certain checks in the offense.” The results have been impressive for Cuero, which went 12-1 last season. “It has helped us to develop some young offensive linemen this year that might not have been able to play if we would not have had the system or would have caused us to slow down practice to catch them up,” recalled Reeve. “We had a 6’4” 290 lb. sophomore and getting the extra coaching every play helped him to become a starter in the first game of the year. We thought he wouldn’t play until the 6th or 7th game. He ended up unanimous 1st Team All-District for us and it was all because of the Telcommand system.

Telcommand is being used in 24 states and three countries at institutions that include Notre Dame, Ohio State and Rice in sports as diverse as lacrosse, soccer, skiing and equestrian. But it’s football that has always had the best application for the unique capabilities of the Telcommand system, according to Rick Meyer, President of RPM Sports, the company behind Telcommand. “The unique demands of football coaching, with so many different position players spread out over a large distance, with players requiring specific coaching instructions from different coaches – this is the situation where Telcommand provides the most benefit,” said Meyer. “We’re finding out, from conversations with football coaches that are using the system, that position coaches are discovering their own unique applications for communicating with their players and that Telcommand is delivering results on many levels.”

Meyer has designed Telcommand to offer flexibility to football programs. “One coach can work with a position group no matter how large that group is. With 14 channels it gives you the flexibility to break out into each position. The assistant coaches could actually be outfitted with receivers and on a separate channel on which the head coach could communicate directions and instructions to them as he observes the overall practice. Two coaches could work together with one group. The advantages and quality improvements that could result from the implementation and use of Telcommand in football practices are endless.”

At Cuero, Mark Reeve puts this flexibility into practice. “We have 3 sets of phones. When we are on offense, our OL coach has a set with the OL, our QB coach has a set with the QB’s and our receivers coach has a set with the receivers. When we are on defense, the LB coach has a set, the secondary coach has a set, and those two sets are 5 and 4 instead of 3 groups of 3. We have found that in the offensive line we only need one on the left side and one on the right, as the others can hear fine,” Reeve told AFM. “With the QB, it gives me a chance to talk to him just before the snap, after the play is over, and lets him be more of a leader in the huddle because I don’t have to be standing on the field with him.”

Jim Haskins, Defensive Coordinator and D-backs Coach at Olentangy (OH) High School, has used Telcommand for the last two seasons and is a devoted supporter. “I believe this product helps us across the board; offense, defense and special teams,” said Haskins. “It helps with the confidence of our players when they can be corrected in a calm voice and not by a loud voice from clear across the field. But what I like best is the second team can watch and hear corrections while on the sideline. It keeps them into practice and reduces my time spent on correcting the same mistake the starter made.”

Haskins summed up perhaps the two most important assets of Telcommand for a coach. “I coach defensive backs and we are spread out all over the field. Now I don't have to wait for everybody to get back into the huddle to coordinate coverages. I also like to put them on sideline personnel so they can hear what I am saying to the players on the field, especially when we put in something new.” He added, “I don't have to yell across the field and the second string can hear adjustments and corrections.”

Besides the obvious advantages that Telcommand provides to coaches in terms of communication, both Haskins and Reeve see intangibles that make the system an even greater asset to their programs. “There are endless uses for this product,” said Haskins. “I would like to use it during our mini camp where the coaches can wear the receiver and the camp coordinator can wear the transmitter to keep everybody on schedule and up to date on schedule adjustments.” Reeve saw the powerful impact that Telcommand has on players. “We noticed that our kids felt special when we put the devices on them, even our back ups. They appreciated the extra coaching. The kids really responded well.”

In an age where technology changed the way that coaches coach, Telcommand is an innovation that simply but effectively enhances the most basic coaching responsibility; one-on-one communication between coach and player for the betterment of the team.

For more information, visit or call 866-776-3530


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