Three years with the Legends and Masters – cricket coaching with 4-year olds

Back in 2014, I started coaching at the MCC Cricket Academy, and was assigned to support a coach delivering a “Little Legends” session for a group of 3-5 year olds.

Not really cricket, I thought – more 45 minutes of childcare, with a cricketing theme, perhaps, but not really cricket coaching.

I found out later that some of my new colleagues had directly requested not to be scheduled to work with the Little Legends, and I could understand why.  But as the new coach, I didn’t think I could get away with opting out.

Three years later, I find myself leading the delivery for 5 weekly sessions for 5s and under.  And the more I do, the more I appreciate the value of coaching the very young players in the Academy’s Little Legends and Mini Masters programmes.

What changed?

I remembered one of the first pieces of advice I was given when I first trained as a coach – always coach the player, not the skill.  And I also remembered how much I enjoy playing games.

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The case against All Stars Cricket

I posted recently on All Stars Cricket (ASC), and why I believe that the new entry-level programme from the ECB will be good for the game.

I expect to hear soon that one of the Clubs where I coach has signed up to be an ASC Centre – I have volunteered to help out (even, perhaps, to take a lead for the first year), until the project attracts new volunteers (someone has to deliver that first session in mid-May).

But it is fair to say that the response from the wider cricket community to ASC has been mixed – mostly positive (that I have seen or heard), but by no means universally so.

I wanted to take a look at the case against.  Not (mostly) to dismiss it, but rather in the spirit of the”premortem” – if, in an imagined future, the programme has failed, what were the causes; what else could we have done pre-launch, to prevent that failure.

Continue reading The case against All Stars Cricket

#AllStarsCricket – good for the future of the game

To Lord’s on Sunday, for an ECB presentation on their new programme for 5-8 year olds – All Stars Cricket.

The promise is ambitious.

All Stars Cricket is a nationwide programme developed by the ECB and our Elite Coach Development team that aims to inspire 5 to 8 year olds to take up cricket and join your club!

All Stars Cricket enables children to acquire the skills to play the game and connects them to England cricket heroes. We will provide your club with everything you need to deliver an unique experience for kids and their parents.

Active and direct support from ECB to recruit players and volunteers, and the added incentive that “the programme will be unbureacratic and will not require the level of training of coaches as clubs are normally used to” combine to make All Stars Cricket very attractive to Clubs struggling to attract young players into the game.

The pitch was strong on “player experience” and engagement (both good things, essential, in fact).  Less clear (at this, very early, stage) on progression and retention of players.

But at first sight, All Stars Cricket definitely looks like a winner!

Continue reading #AllStarsCricket – good for the future of the game