The coaches toolkit revisited (1): how well do I use the tools at my disposal?

I have blogged previously about the contents of my “coaches’ toolkit”, but I have never really considered how well I actually use the tools.

Prompted, again, by the iCoachKids MOOC Coaching on the Ground: Planning, Doing & Reviewing, it’s time to take another look.

Setting up & Standing Back

  • I am always happy to get the players playing (or doing) — definitely getting better at this, whether it be a “drill” or a game;
  • sometimes, however, better planning will help, especially around outcomes (see below)..


  • Too often, I find myself struggling to make up an explanation at some point during a session, either during set-up or as we change activities — it would be good to anticipate elements of the session outcome that might need greater explanation, and prepare accordingly.


  • I need to consider viewing angles and consistency of demonstration — not just the “one from the side, one from the front” approach from my level 1 training.
  • Also, just because there might be alternative acceptable techniques does not mean I should try to demonstrate them all!

Questioning & Listening

  • As above — better understanding of the session outcomes will allow better planning of questions.
  • I do need to work harder at listening — I probably keep an ear open for the “right” answer (the one I was expecting), but I must sometimes miss viable alternative solutions.


  • As previously — better planning for session outcomes will help to formulate more concise, more relevant feedback.
  • I am working on using affirmation rather than praise — “yes, that’s exactly what we spoke about” or “that works!” in preference to “great’ or “well done”.

Common theme, for me, is the need to plan better — not (necessarily) to the level of how many cones to lay out, but most certainly around session themes and desired outcomes.

A new toolkit

The iCK toolkit follows a slightly different formulation to the one I was introduced to by the ECB Coach Education programme in 2014, but recognisably the same.

There are, however, a couple of (possibly significant) differences.

iCK (2018)ECB (2013)
setting up & standing backObserve; use Silence
questioning & listeningQuestion
feedbackFeedback; Praise
Comparison of the coaches’ toolkits proposed by iCoachKids & ECB Coach education

Observing and the use of silence were both advocated in the ECB kit, but only as tools to be chosen when needed — the iCK toolkit puts standing back at the top of the list.

There is no explicit mention of intervention in the iCK tools.

The iCK kit does not mention analysis (but nor is Observation explicitly mentioned). Perhaps “live” analysis is less relevant when the session has been well planned, and outcomes decided upon — less emphasis on identifying what is being done incorrectly (analysis of divergence from an “ideal” model; intervention to return participants to the “ideal”)?

Probably indicative of the much greater emphasis today on games-based learning, and allowing the participants to learn (as much as possible) by playing, rather than by being told what to do.

iCK explicitly includes listening as a tool — only implicit in the ECB toolkit, as an adjunct to questioning.


  • Planning for outcomes
  • Don’t just ask questions – listen to the responses

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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