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coaching culture philosophy player development

Team building – numbers and culture

Your pre-season planning will be well in hand, now, I’m sure. Winter nets in full swing, working parties planned to spruce up the pavilion and repair the sight screens, grant applications in place.

It will soon be time to think about selecting the team for the first fixtures. How many players do you need? The obvious answer is 11, of course. But how many of them do you need to be in form and making a contribution each week?

In a typically insightful article last year, Ed Smith quoted Sir Alex Ferguson as saying that he needed only eight players performing well to win a game.

Just eight. And Smith gives examples of teams that have been successful with contributions from an even smaller proportion of their players.

Which is not to say that Sir Alex would ever have sent a team onto the pitch with only eight players, nor that the other three simply stood around for 90 minutes and did nothing.

We do definitely need 11 players. But what should we expect from the three or four who won’t be scoring runs or taking wickets, and how do we prepare them to play that role?