Talent: you either got it or you aint. It can't be coached.
Actually, according to research, talent can be developed by good coaching. You just have to know what to do to make it happen.
Think of it this way; how many sportsmen at the top of their game got there by God given talent alone?
Even 'naturals' like Tiger Woods or Ian Botham had to put in the hours of training and learning as boys to reach the heights of the game. Put simply; the scientific research shows that the harder you work the more talented you become.
But hard work is called hard work for a reason; it's not fun. Only the really dedicated are willing to put in the effort to bring talent levels up.
And that's where a good coach can make the difference.
1. Start them early
Talent is a relative thing. Nobody cares if a 10 year old can play Test cricket, but they do care how good they are compared to other kids around the same age.
So, if you start coaching a player at age 4, he will have had more practice than most and so be more 'talented' in relative terms.
This doesn't even need to be cricket specific skills. A young player who has learned the basics of hitting a ball, running, throwing and jumping from an early age will have a head start even before they pick up a plastic bat.
2. Keep the success coming
A young player with a talent head start can keep this rolling with an effect called the 'talent multiplier'.
You see, people get motivated to practice when they succeed. So if you give them lots of small successes they practice more and get more talented.
That means when you are planning coaching, make it easy for a player to succeed at little things along the way. You do this by:
- Setting up a practice with a specific goal
- Giving instant feedback on the goal
- Allow players to adjust until they get it right
We all know the good feeling of trying to do something an getting it right, especially if you have failed a couple of times before, so develop that feeling in practice and start building the internal motivation players need.
A simple example of this is to set up a game for driving where you have to hit the ball through cones. Let players try and hit it (a specific goal) while you give technical tips. They get an instant feedback loop (did it go through the target or not) and help to adjust from your tips.
3. Push when you need to
Although motivation is much more powerful when it comes from the player themselves, sometimes you need to push externally to give talent a kick start.
On the surface this is doing things like telling a player you will give them a polo every time they hit the bowling target or introducing a competitive element to games.
On a deeper level, every motivational 'trick' you use must be aimed ultimately and getting players to be self-motivated because that's what really works.
If players want to be good they have to be good because they like playing and practicing cricket. No amount of parental promises of buying stuff or threats of stopping pocket money will work on it's own.
So yes, talent can be coached and all good coaches should be making sure they are trying to coach it too. If you are not building self-motivation as a coach you are not doing a good job at creating players who love the game.