I had struggled somewhat to develop my own coaching philosophy in cricket. Now I’ve realised the main reason for this is actually the core of what my philosophy actually is. Confusing?! I’ll try to explain.
I love cricket. I have been fascinated with it since I was a young child. It has always given me something to do, watch, read and think about. However, despite this deep interest, I have never able to be a good player. I’ve had my moments at the standard I play at but I am always aware of how limited my ability is. That said, I have had two periods where I have flourished. One with a superb coach and mentor, the great Jav Iqbal at my boyhood club Hunningham CC. This version of flourishing wasn’t really about runs and wickets but how I could contribute positively to the team. Jav made me, and all the lads, feel like who we were was enough and we squeezed what we could from our skills.
The second period is one I am currently in. I decided in 2020, prompted in part by lockdown, that I would throw myself in to trying to improve. This isn’t going to get me a county cap for Warwickshire but means I contribute a bit more for my club on a Saturday. Having not had anyone since Jav to properly guide me, I asked for a bit of help. Two mates- Rob Houghton and Paul Morris- offered some help about my run up and some other bits and my confidence grew.
Having experienced the benefit of wanting to improve (I know how this isn’t a given from having coasted for years) I started to think about how I could help others. Coaching seemed obvious as I’m a teacher and used to planning and delivering sessions. However, even with increased belief, I was hesitant due to my own shortcomings as a player.
Who am I to pass on advice to other players? Won’t they just look at me and my play-cricket stats and switch off? I couldn’t really get past these questions. Yet, I wanted to. Another influence in my life was gently moving me to what my philosophy is.
In my study of counselling Carl Rogers dominates. His person centered theory forms the basis of much learning in this area. It is three key components of this that have allowed me to develop a coaching philosophy I feel comfortable with.
This is based on the therapist, or cricket coach in this instance, being their genuine self. For me, my anxiety around my playing background and possible impact on credibility as a coach can be dealt with by being clear about this. I’ll often mention it to be open. Perhaps one day I won’t feel the need to but for now I do. I then feel free to say how I think I can help. I can throw to them, catch for them, watch something, be creative with drills, ask questions, respond to what they want.
Unconditional positive regard
I have to see the player in a positive light and believe they are of worth as they are, even though we look to improve. Javid taught me that who I am was enough so that makes me want to highlight what the player does well first and foremost. Whether they get a string of centuries or ducks, they are still valued and someone I want to support.
A benefit of not having my own success to draw on is that I don’t have my experience to impose on others. It is about understanding their perspective. What do they want to get from this session? I read and watch as much as I can to have examples from others to try and challenge but it’s still about them.
Granted, I work almost entirely with adults so they have a fair idea of what they want. I also don’t do it as regularly as I’d like so each session is self contained and probably feels more like someone giving some throwdowns rather than being coached. I’m happy with that. If the player wanted 100 balls to hit then it’s not for me to do something else. I do see the value in a more technically minded coach getting more involved and directive. It’s just not for me.
Maybe one day I won’t feel the need to get in quickly with “I’m not a great player but I’m just here to help you” but for now I’m fine with that as it’s showing the congruence which gives me the confidence to help.