Mark Boucher, Head Coach of the Titans franchise, was recently announced by CSA as their Coach of the Year.
Boucher has taken to coaching after retiring from International cricket due to injury. He has made an immediate successful impact with the franchise. How did he do it?
PitchVision got the inside track in this recent interview.
PV: What makes a good coach?
MB: First of all you need to have a team to work with. Not just skill. They have to understand you and you have to understand them. It's a mutual respect where the coach is trying to get the best out of a player and the player is trying to get the best out of the coach.
You have to be understanding. Every player needs a different angle for coaching. If you coach everyone the same it's never going to work. Understanding of each individual is the way.
PV: How much does cricket experience help?
MB: Experience is not the be all and end all. Graham Ford was involved in tennis, but he understood what it took to become the best.
It does help though. I always say that I want to be the coach that I wanted when I was a player. The best lesson I learned as a player was because I had a few coaches, some I connected with and others I didn't. So, as a coach I understand I may not connect with every player, but I can still make the best of the situation. I try and get in mentors that players do respect and drop my own ego. If I can't get the best from a player, I want to get someone who can get the best from them.
PV: What advice would you give for a player moving into coaching?
MB: You have to want to be a coach. It's not easy. It's different because you can't change the game.
You have to understand you will make mistakes. I feel I have to go with my gut. If it doesn't work, I learn and try not to make the same mistake again.
Understand your character. I was a feisty player but I am a calmer coach. Sometimes you need to give some harsh words to players but in a pressure situation, panic is not going to help. Whatever you do has to be the best for the player.
PV: How important is a coach?
MB: For our team, the most important thing is to understand the team culture. Our team has a strong culture so the coaches' job is make sure players stick to those cultures and respect those cultures. Everything is for the team, it's not about the coach.
PV: Who's the best coach you have worked with?
MB: It's a difficult question. I worked with different people through my career and they all played an important role at the time. At the beginning I remember working with Richard Pybus. He knew my game from school days. He knew me best.
When I got into the Proteas I worked with Bob Woolmer. He taught me a few things about keeping and understood my character.
Graham Ford taught me about my work ethic.
I met Ray Jennings at the perfect time in my career. I was floating and had maybe got lazy. He took me under his wing and we linked well. He was a hard person but that's what I needed.
Gary Kirsten calmed me at the end of my career so I could enjoy it.
PV: What do you aspire to acheive in coaching?
MB: In franchise cricket my job is to bring cricketers to play for the Proteas. Titles are nice but if you develop players the results look after themselves. It starts by bringing guys in to be ready for the Titans. Once they have been here for a while, get them ready to play for the Proteas. Then I'll be satisfied.
PV: What is your coaching style?
MB: I like to let players run how the want to run. It's the new style of coaching. I am here to support the culture and live up to it. If they are not living up to it you still need discipline but it must come from the player's culture.
I would also want players knowing they are getting good knowledge, working hard and having a good time doing it. We are close to the Proteas setup, so I am here to support players with ambitions to move into the Proteas some day.
PV: What coaching advice would you give to your younger self, if you could?
MB: I would help me believe in myself more. I thought I got lucky with opportunies early on. I did not think I would play for South Africa. I did not feel comfortable. I would panic. So, I would say to my past self: "It's not others at fault. You need to back yourself. Until then, you will always have doubts. That's normal."
What's the most satisfying part of coaching?
MB: When you see something as a coach and you try to get it across to the player, one of the most satisfying things is the player trusting you and agreeing to try and change it. You know trust is there.
Then, it's satisfying seeing a player pull something off in a match situation that they have been working hard on. They give you a little thumbs up. That little gesture sums up what they have been through, the sweat and tears, and the trust between player and coach.