Ask the Readers: What's more important for a coach? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Ask the Readers: What's more important for a coach?

Should players consider the playing experience of a coach or should they just go on how good a coach is and ignore their playing record?

It seems I stirred a little controversy this week. So I thought I would find out what you think too.

The whole thing started when miCricketCoach Show host Kevin and I were talking about the experience a coach needs to help a player make it to the professional game. I aired my views, it seem innocuous at the time.

But then I got an email from a disgruntled listener calling me 'out of order'.

For the record (you can listen in to the show here), I said that if you are hiring a coach to help you get into professional cricket he will need:

  • Experience coaching players who have made it into first-class cricket
  • Experience at playing first-class cricket himself

I also said, and this perhaps is the controversial part, that coaches who are qualified but don't have this experience are not suitable for the ambitious player.

It's here the email was most angry saying: "just because an ECB coach hasn't played the game at the highest level doesn’t mean that they aren't a top quality coach."

I agree that you don't need first-class experience to be a good coach. Yet you are at a disadvantage if you have not been there yourself but are trying to get others there.

Neither do all first-class players make good coaches. But if you are choosing a coach to get you into the pro game you may as well choose one who is good and has experience at the professional game: Someone who knows what it takes beyond the technical side of things because they have been there.

That's my view. I stand by what I said on the podcast.
What's your view?

Should players consider the playing experience of a coach or should they just go on how good a coach is and ignore their playing record?

I would love to hear your thoughts whether you are a coach yourself or a player.

Leave a comment and join the discussion.


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Hello David,

I think it is an advantage to have played a good standard of cricket. However, I don't believe one coach can do everything these days. Yes you must have sound technical understanding on all aspects of cricket but more importantly your communication has to be spot on whatever level you coach at.

Something you may wish to consider - the last soccer team to have won the Premier League or old first division with an international player as manager? (Kenny Dalglish I think). Wenger, Ferguson or Benitez haven't played a high standard of soccer. Also, Martin Johnson isn't finding an easy transition from the pitch to managing the England rugby team.

In my experience dealing with ambitious players it boils down to their mental approach. I have seen some who think they have "arrived". Only to be 'found out' because of their mental approach to their own game. They stop working on the basics and believe all the good things people say about them. In short they get lazy. Any good coach/manager will be able to pick this up and put measures in place.

Finally, there has to be chemistry and respect between player/coach. It doesn't matter if you have 100 caps or played for the local pub team. The relationship is going nowhere.

Kind regards,

Robin Collins
ECB Coach

I agree one hundred percent with Robin's post; especially the fact that one coach can no longer do everything. I work with elite athletes in many sporting disciplines and actually find that the technical coaching is becoming an ever smaller part of the programme. Regardless of this, I find that it is far too demanding to do everything with one particular sports person and I, personally, do not think it is totally healthy to have only one coach doing everything. I may work on two qualities with one client, but rarely more; these may be selected from psychology, biomechanics, strength and conditioning, nutrition, soft tissue management [recovery and/or injury management].

If I work with a cricketer, I like to start with performance profiling. I will quite often work with another technical coach but the most important quality, [assuming, as Robin says, that they have sound technical understanding on all aspects of cricket], is chemistry and empathy. It does not matter what level the coach played at, as long as he can inspire the player. It is not helpful if you have a coach always talking about what he/she did and how great cricket was is their time. What worked for them and what worked then, will not *necessarily* work for today's player.

What is important, if you are a player looking for caps, is surrounding yourself with various coaches who know what they are talking about. For instance, if you wanted to bat or bowl in first class cricket, you would not go soley to a psychologist to get you there so why go to a cricket coach for psychological training, or fitness training for that matter, if they are not also qualified in that area.

Thanks for your comments, interesting expansion on the original point.

All the points posted so far are more than valid. Mine is that I would NOT take helicopter aerobatics lessons from the Worlds Best Flight Instructor if the had never flown, or done those tricks in a helicopter. There are just some things that you have to have experienced to be effective on transferring information. I agree fully with David H.

Not really the same though is it? How do you become the Worlds Best Flight Instructor if you have never flown? It is also extremely unlikely that any cricketer is going to kill himself and/or many others by attending a great coach, just because he has not had first class experience and presumably a great coach will have played and will have experience in all the tricks [batting/bowling etc].

If you want to take scenareos out of cricket.. it reminds me of my Chemistry tutor. Though having spent 20 odd years, very high in his field in industry, he spent the whole lecture [every lecture] with his back to the students writing on a blackboard we could not see [because he stood in front of it], talking, though we could not hear [because he was talking to the blackboard]. Give me a trained Chemistry tutor any day over an industrial specialist. If this trained tutor happens to have had a great career in industry all the best.

Having said this, I know many great coaches who have had first class experience, Ian Pont being just one but I don't recommend Ian to my players because he has first class experience. I recommend him because he is a fantastic coach who can get the measure of individual players, giving them a bespoke experience. What I love most about guys like Ian, is they are not afraid to admit their limitations and will bring in the right person to provide the right coaching, not always ex-first class players.

I wonder how many international players made it because their own early coach was ex-first class.

In 2003, Jonny Wilkinson was mine [and possibly every English person's] darling. His kicking coach was not ex-first class, although Dr David Alred MBE is regarded as the WORLDS best kicking coach and awarded the Mussabini Medal for outstanding success on the world stage Smiling He is also so highly regarded that the ECB contracted him to speak to their coaches at the last Conference.

Think you missed the point on my last.

Many apologies if I have. I thought your point was that there were 'some things that you have to have experienced to be effective on transferring information' and that you 'would NOT take helicopter aerobatics lessons from the Worlds Best Flight Instructor if he had never flown, or done those tricks in a helicopter'.

My reply was to anecdote that a top flight chemist with many years of experience at the top of his career, at the top of his industry, was not able to transfer any information whatsoever. That was a fact, not a hyperthetical posture; not one student passed that course Eye-wink.

Everybody's point of view is of great value and if yours has been missed, perhaps you could put it another way.

If, however, your point was just that you agree with David, that's cool. He's a great guy doing a fantastic job and I generally find myself agreeing with him too Smiling. I totally understand and respect his view on this matter, I just happen to have a different one in this instance Laughing out loud.

Fair enough, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. All the best.