What makes a good coach?

I wrote recently about the importance of communication in coaching.

I don’t think this point can be over-emphasised – communication is absolutely key.  A coach could be knowledgeable, perceptive, empathetic, and enthusiastic, but if he can’t communicate all of these qualities he might just as well stand at the back of the net with his iPhone!

But clearly there is more to coaching than putting across the right message, at the right time.

So – what makes a good a coach?

With thanks to Barry Rhodes, who asked this question on LinkedIn and started me off on this line of thought.

What characteristics do you expect to see in a good coach?

  • Honest – the coach needs to tell it like it is, not how we might want it to be.
  • Knowledgeable – it’s not enough for the coach simply to know the drills and skills; the coach needs to know why they are intervening, and to explain (or, better, demonstrate) how they are helping.
  • Passionate – about the game, about improving and innovating.

Which behavioural aspects of a coach do you think are the most important in making a player’s coaching experience a positive one?

  • Fair – everyone gets the chance to get better.
  • Good communicator – verbal or visual – where the style is appropriate to the player, instructions are clear, and outcomes are understood (by player and coach).
  • Challenging – a good coach needs to encourage player growth and development by providing the space for players to grow.

In terms of a coaches knowledge which things do you think are the most important to the player?

  • Technical and tactical knowledge – what to do, and when to do it. Neither absolutely require that the coach himself has relevant playing experience (although this helps with the appropriate application of the knowledge).
  • Extensive coaching experience can help, but can also result in sterile/set-in-stone thinking.  Innovative thinking is essential.

Am I anywhere near this ideal?

Not even close!  But I am setting myself the challenge to grow into the role.

Published by

Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB CA cricket coach working at the MCC Academy, the Essex Indoor Cricket Centre, and with the junior sections at Oakfield Parkonians CC & Regent's Park CC; All Stars Cricket Activator; ECB ACO umpire.

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