2014 has been a year of cricketing extremes, with coaching sessions with both the youngest and oldest players I have ever worked with.
At one end of the age range, I have enjoyed coaching several “Little Legends” groups this year – 3-4 year olds. I have also delivered 1-2-1 sessions for club and social players, the oldest of whom is over 60 and still playing on most weekends in the summer.
Very different players, but all with one thing in common – they wanted to enjoy themselves, playing cricket.
Very different challenges for the coach…and surprising similarities.
Cricket for the under 5s
Outcomes and “learning objectives” with the young players include both “developmental” and sporting landmarks – learning to listen and co-operate, learning to throw, catch and strike.
We play lots of games, which are great fun…although some of the coaches (myself included) probably enjoy playing the games every bit as much as the children!
Coaching the Club player
Sessions for the older players have been designed to develop very specific skills – getting the spinner to bowl with turn and bounce, holding onto more chances behind the stumps, or demonstrating all round competence in the outfield.
All the older players were looking to refine (or remember) coaching lessons that have not been revised since schooldays, but all have committed to playing just a little bit better the next time they get the chance to take the field.
Not so different, after all
The sessions that I delivered for the two groups have necessarily been very different, but there are distinct common themes.
- Success on the player’s own terms – it’s not what the coach wants that matters, but that the player achieves some success.
- Challenge – the role of the coach is to draw out enhanced performance by challenging the player to achieve more.
- Progression and progress – we get nowhere by simply repeating the same drills and exercises.
- Consistency & honesty – at all times.
So – whether the player is 3 or 63, the role of the coach remains the same – to help the player to be just a little bit better, every time.