Performance development is not just for “performance” athletes – podcast with Mark Bennett & Stuart Armstrong

Fascinating podcast from Stuart Armstrong with Mark Bennett MBE, founder of PDS (Performance Development Systems) .

Lots of take-aways for coaches from this, and their earlier podcast, not least the definition of “performance” as a behaviour or “state of being”, rather than a standard. For a coach working mostly with “participation” or “community” players, that means I could help them to develop appropriate performance behaviours to carry them onwards through their future careers, sporting or otherwise.

Mark described his “Rule of 3”, an approach to player performance development that seeks to over-turn the traditional coach-athlete relationship – rather than telling or instructing the athlete, the coach provides an environment in which the athlete is able to develop techniques to develop their own solutions to challenges.

There are similarities with the “game as the teacher” concept (coach sets up scenario, then allows players to “self organise” towards a solution), but focusing on the development of learning behaviours and skills as much as (more than) game sense and playing techniques.

I have struggled in 1-to-1 sessions to impress on the player how important it is that they learn to solve challenges for themselves.  I could give a “textbook” description of exactly how the player should perform a skill, but I know (a) just because I tell them doesn’t mean they will “learn”, and (b) that the textbook solution won’t automatically work for everyone, in any case.

“I can’t bowl the next ball for you – what do you need to do?”.

“I couldn’t play that shot, even if I was out in the middle batting with you – but how will you set-up to score runs off the next delivery?”

So I have caught myself stumbling around questions like “how did that feel?” or “what would you change?” – it’s certainly not what a lot of players expect from a coach, and I wonder how much I have really been able to help.

Inspired by Mark’s example, I am trying to work out how I might apply the Rule of Three (which includes an important element of peer review) in 1-to-1s.  My first thought is that perhaps I could use video (self) analysis as a proxy for player-player review…if only I can get the technology to work, real-time.

We’ll see, when I next get into the nets with a player.


Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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