The classic stereotypical tracksuit wearing, clipboard carrying coach with a whistle around his neck is one that I personally find very annoying and certainly helped me to decide not to carry a whistle for most of the first part of my coaching career. Luckily getting my players attention was never a problem for me (see meme above) and later on I discovered electronic whistles which require even less effort are also more hygienic.
Whatever the option you choose, the whistle has a couple of very specific uses in practice beyond getting everyone’s attention. Firstly, every time you serve you should start with a whistle. The referee’s whistle is actually part of the serving routine and if there is no whistle players cannot properly start their routines. Secondly, players are attuned to pay attention to a whistle (much like Pavlov’s dog). If a drill is dragging at any point, or players are dawdling between actions, then a whistle can set the rhythm for the drill better, and with way less stress and effort, than any kind of verbal exhortation or discussion. Use the whistle to start six actions and you will be amazed how the drill flows better with less dawdling and lack of attention.
Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. But never carry a clipboard!
The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.
For more great coaching tips, check out the Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.