The bigger picture: I’m in the market for slinging ideas around and would be happy if those triggered pretty much any kind of response. This is a friendly challenge – even if you reject it in a patronised huff.
So there is no suggestion here that the My/your club ‘model’ is necessarily broken, merely (like everything else) we can maybe improve it. We can and should challenge ourselves to do better… and before the cries go up, this is not remotely the same as ‘being too serious for our lot’.
One of the things we might do better, for example, is to INCREASE the amount of fun/entertainment we offer. More than anything, perhaps, we should look to avoid DRIFT; preparation and reflection can help us do this.
Our responsibilities as coaches/cricket people are what? Amongst many other things…
- To develop players towards excellence?
- To animate and enthuse?
- To ensure everyone remains healthy and safe.
To achieve these things what do we need? All 3 demand some planning; whether or not this is back of a fag-packet stuff or immaculate tables of options and measurements. Do something that works for you. I know what time pressures are all about!
My general proposal is that we become better focussed and more dynamic by setting out our objectives – perhaps our individual sessions? – significantly more clearly. Far from ‘putting young players off’, I think that we will retain and entertain our young players if we offer them something that leads them somewhere, something other than just a hit, a throw, a bowl. Statistically, we are losing players from the game in the mid-late teens; I think this is partly because coaches let sessions drift. So it’s difficult to avoid this notion that we need to plan things. As an example if we ask ourselves what (broadly) we might need to cover with our young players, we might suggest
- Core skills
- The generic game – an understanding of what you do
- Team needs
Then we need to address how best to offer up these skills. I’m suggesting a flexible coaching plan (weather!) where ideally we set out OBJECTIVES for individual sessions and for the season, with age-appropriate, challenging drills. Think through percentages of time spent on the three chief disciplines; think about how – and how much – technical information you give out. Think about maintaining energy and focus throughout sessions in particular – think about how you can minimise drift. As coaches I’d suggest that an important part of what we do is both an assessment of how players are doing… and how well our sessions have gone… and relationships (the link, if any) between the two things. Plus is there a way that we can support each other on what we do? Should we be having a monthly pow-wow to keep up to speed with player’s progress and our own delivery? Is a sort of hierarchy unhelpful or helpful in all that – who’s ‘judging’ who? I think we come back to that word ‘supporting‘ here, hopefully? Nets. Nets are the obvious example of where most clubs underachieve; we do! Far too often some bloke gets padded up and smashes through the ball for twenty minutes before somebody else does the same. Meanwhile bowlers bowl too much/too casually/without any real commitment. This must change. We need (and I would argue that the young players need)
- less nets/better nets
- clear objectives set by the coach – specific shots/specific gaps?
- a considered and challenging environment which seeks to replicate match conditions
- in other words, FOCUS
- better attention to SAFETY ISSUES.
We need cones to mark out where fielders are, we need two batsmen who actually run, we need CHALLENGES and DISCUSSION and LEADERSHIP from the coach. We need reasons to be doing what we’re doing. I think this is a really good cricket club and I’ve always felt privileged to be involved; that doesn’t mean, unfortunately, that the status quo here is good enough. Whether we like it or not, we are facing all sorts of challenges – financial/competition from other clubs or sports/apathy amongst players and the general population(?) All these are arguments for improvement – for change. With this in mind I am asking those that are comfortable with the idea to firstly consider what their best contribution to the coaching of their allotted age-group might look like, then produce a plan for 4 weeks of coaching. Simple and short as you like – a brief outline for 4 sessions – meaning a paragraph or 2, that we can discuss and maybe share. If you want to go on and offer a longer view for the season – great. I think that would be a real step forward. This is not us getting too boring and serious; it’s us being more dynamic – really adding value to what we do – whilst bumping up the energy, the entertainment.