coaching cricket philosophy psychology

Thinking about thinking about cricket…

I attended my first ECB CA Conference in January. It would be unfair to single out any of the presenters for special mention – every session left me with enough ideas to keep me busy into the summer, and beyond – but I did especially enjoy the opening day, which I spent listening to Matthew Syed, Michael Caulfield of Sporting Edge, and Louise Deeley from Inside Performance, all talking about the “inner game”, and how to think about thinking about cricket. And then, on the second day, the key-note from Peter Moores, simply entitled “Winning”.

One theme emerged in all four sessions – the absolute importance of adopting a “growth mind-set”, the belief that improvement is always possible, and that the role of the coach in developing this mind-set can be as important as any technical and physical improvements they can instil.

coaching psychology

What makes a winning coach? Ask someone who knows!

I spent a few hours today watching the live stream of @sportscoachuk’s latest #alldaytalentbreakfast, featuring Stuart Lancaster, England Rugby Union Head Coach, and Mark Lane, Head Coach of England Women’s Cricket.

Perhaps most enlightening (for me, as a volunteer cricket coach working with junior players) was the emphasis both speakers placed on the importance of a strong foundation (at representative level below national, and senior club, Academy and junior sport) to the ultimate success of the senior national teams.

Having heard Lancaster and Lane speak, it can be no surprise that England Rugby Union and the Women’s Cricket set-ups are both on the up.

Truly inspirational.

coaching cricket psychology

Looking out for a hero – pick your role models

When I am working with our Colts, I always try to illustrate a coaching point with examples from the First Class game.

A lot of the boys try to hit the ball too hard, and fall over as they go for a big shot.  I try telling them to stand still, and to keep their balance.  But there can be few better examples of perfect balance at the batting crease than MS Dhoni, hitting the winning 6 in the final of the 2011 World Cup.  They have all seen the pictures, all seen the poise and the twirling bat.  And some of them are hitting the ball a lot more often, and more cleanly, now they follow Dhoni’s example.

For straight lines when bowling – Dale Steyn.  Run straight towards the stumps; look straight ahead; follow through straight; bowl straight…it works!

For absolute focus on the task in hand – Alastair Cook, every time he bats.

And now I might have a new role model – Kevin Pietersen.  Not (this time) for the inventiveness in his stroke play, or confidence to back his own methods, but for his innings in the Mumbai test.

Not just a great innings, but a great innings when it mattered, both to KP himself and to the England team.  Now if I could just encourage the Colts to follow KP’s example, and to find the commitment in themselves to perform at their best when their team needs them, I think I might be working with some even better young players.