Coaching the child vs. coaching the sport

Over lockdown I was privileged to receive an invitation to join a series of webinars hosted by Chance to Shine (CtS) for their coaches. I have run a few CtS sessions in schools, but in truth I rather felt like an impostor amongst the County Board staffers who do such a great job delivering CtS across the country.

The presentations were (mostly) very interesting, occasionally inspiring. Not always immediately applicable to what I will do (no, I don’t expect to be delivering CtS over a live video link in the near future), but it did get me thinking about why I coach.

For me, it’s really never been about “performance” and setting players on the Development Pathway (DP). I have done a little bit of 1-to-1 work with youngsters in a County DP, but, in truth, I am too far removed from that world. Even with the Club I coached with, I would mostly see the softball u9s, and All Stars.

I have written elsewhere that I don’t consider myself a children’s coach, but I do work mostly with u7s, and in school PE lessons, and it does feel a very long way from the performance realm.

So what is the motivation at this level? Love of the game? Giving something back? I would have struggled to articulate my own reasons for coaching, until I came across Create Development.

Highlight of the Chance to Shine programmes, for me, was the “back to school” series in the autumn, and in particular the insight offered into Create Development’s “realPE”.

I had come across Create Development before, in the person of Steve Pritchard, at the tutor training session ahead of the (now postponed) launch for Dynamos Cricket.

And we were treated to two sessions with Ronnie Heath, Managing Director of Create Development on the CtS programme, and a further look at how Create Dev approach working with and supporting teachers with Director of Innovation, John Parsons.

Fiercely practical, engaging, the realPE model can be summarised as “creating positive relationships with physical activity for life”.

And that seems a perfect fit for the coaching that I do (and still enjoy), whether with the 4 year olds at Lord’s, with Chance to Shine sessions in primary school, or the TeamUp programme for secondary school girls.

It’s not about being the best cricketer you can be. It’s about testing yourself, more importantly about enjoying the test.

And knowing that you don’t win or lose, you just find new ways to play, and to move.

Coaching the child vs. coaching the sport — maybe I might be a children’s coach, after all?

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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