The role of the coach is important as he/she has a responsibility in that actions, words and behavior can influence peoples’ lives, enjoyment and abilities within a sport. Coaches should aim to make a positive impact on their players with a balanced approach and skill sets to bring out the best in performance, attitude and behavior.
Key attributes often associated with a good coach include:
Nurturing Team builder
Role model Good communicator (listening)
Sense of humour
There are varying styles of coach including these stereotypical cases:
Intense / Nice Guy / Business like / Authoritarian / Easy Going / etc
To be the best coach you can, you need to balance all of the above attributes with a flexible style and technique for each individual cricketer that you work with.
Coaching manuals talk about coaching “the positives” to players. However, in reality if a coach only worked with this side of the equation a player would not develop or improve. It is how you work with the failures, errors, weakness and fear that makes the difference.
Losing captains are often heard to use the old cliché “we will take the positives from this game” when they have been played off the park!
In reality the team and coach will look at what went wrong in the cold light of day and then work hard to put things right. Going back to the drawing board does not mean starting from scratch. Positives will be reinforced but negatives will be assessed through constructive criticism and soul searching along with solutions and strategies to learn and improve.
A coach’s duty is to pass on knowledge gleaned the hard way by generations of players through trial and error and learning from their mistakes.
A good coach will study the game and how it is developing to avoid making the same errors again.
However, mistakes in cricket are inevitable. It is the way in which you deal with them that is the true reflection on the players, the team and the coach.
When things don’t go right in the middle it is often the team that copes with setbacks that will overcome a team with less resistance, fight and team spirit.
Keeping the body language and talk positive is key. Blame, tantrums and negativity, be it verbal, emotional, in actions or even in the eyes of the captain or players will destroy team spirit, divide the team and unite the opposition.
Fear of failure or making mistakes are part of sport but everyone has differing levels of expectation, psychological hang-ups or levels of fear.
It is down to the coach to discuss and try to understand his/her players’ feelings, emotions and what drives them to perform.
Often, a sensible discussion or a clearer definition of a player’s role and game can overcome major obstacles to getting the best out of that player. These discussions need to be done far away from the match environment though. Knowing the time and place is crucial to getting the best results.
Different players respond to different stimuli. Some need nurturing, others pushing and cajoling, some firing up. A good coach will know which buttons to press to get the best out of each individual.
Don’t knock players’ quirky pre-match routines or superstitions. They may be extreme, such as Neil Mckenzie taping kit to dressing room ceilings through to lucky charms such as Steve Waugh’s red handkerchief.
Anything that brings a positive feeling to a player or a dressing room should be encouraged but when things do go wrong, be prepared to tackle issues properly, at the right time and with the correct balance and approach for each individual.
Richard Pybus talks about “Champions go Inside” This is where the coach creates an environment where players learn the required skills and mindsets but are empowered to think for themselves, develop resourcefulness and understand their own personal lessons of success and failure.
From these they can learn from the negatives to promote future positives.
With special thanks to Richard Pybus, Cape Cobras Head Coach.