Communicate At The Speed Of Light

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Tagged Communication

Humans constantly gather and process information about their environment and communicate with their peers using all of their senses.

Light travels faster than sound.

If someone tells you something, you will see their mouth move before you hear the words. If you are close to them it will feel like the two things happen at the same time, but they do not. The time it takes to process the sound and understand it, is additional time. Again if you are close to them it will feel like the same time even if it is not.

Humans are programmed to react to movement.

In a previous post, I explained how the decision making process of a player can be affected by the movement of a teammate in their peripheral vision. Here is an even starker example.

The player in position 6 takes moves towards the ball but does not play it. After the ball lands, you can clearly see the reaction of the player in position 1. He is angry because position 6, by moving, communicated ‘mine’, but then didn’t play the ball. Indeed, the communication was so clear and powerful that position 1 did not play the ball despite it literally hitting his foot.

Many volleyball coaches incessantly focus on verbal communication as the primary means of communication (and also fail to give their players a template for the decision making process (here and here and here)). By doing so, among other things, they ignore the effects of visual communication. Visual communication is faster than verbal communication and because of the way our brain is wired, more effective anyway.

The brain registers visual communication before it registers verbal communication. If you want to communication at the speed of light, use your movements. Of course, after you make a good decision.
Here is another example of the same thing.

*Just as in the previous post, this kind of situation is often interpreted as a lack of effort or commitment, when in fact it is a result of poor decision making and failed communication (NOT failed calling).

The total of 82 practical Coaching Tips can be found here and here.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.


  1. I agree that visual communication on the court is important. Yet reaction times to acoustic signals are faster than to visual signals. How can it be then, that the brain recognizes visual communication faster?


      1. I believe human reactions to acoustic stimuli are faster than reactions to visual stimuli very generally. See e.g. On the other hand, a reaction to the contents of _speech_ is obviously much slower than a reaction to e.g. a loud sound signal (and also to a simple visual stimulus).
        (P.S. I guess the “Light travels faster than sound” was just an “artistic” remark, because the speed of propagation has very little to do with the problem for lengths on the order of few meters, anyway.)


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