How to motivate young cricketers | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to motivate young cricketers

As a coach, have you ever wondered about the talented player who seems to cruise without putting in the hard yards?

How much better would Player A be, you wonder, if only he had the motivation of the les talented Player B? The frustrating part is that motivation is more complicated that a simply telling Jimmy to buck up his ideas.

So until the develop motivation transplants you are going to have to work out a way of keeping your whole group of players hungry for success and prepared to put in the hard work.

It's not easy, but it's possible.
What do you want?

People play cricket for a simple reason: The want to have fun.

Once you know this is the biggest motivating factor in your players you are at a huge advantage. So the first trick is to keep your players engaged and enjoying things:

  • Fit the difficulty to the skill level. All players are challenged but able to experience success.
  • Add in variety with lots of different activities.
  • Keep everyone moving: avoid long talks or having lines of players waiting for a turn.
  • Don't be afraid to just play sometimes. Not all training has to be disciplined and drilled.

When a coach forgets that it's important to enjoy playing cricket he or she can strip motivation away from players rather than boost it up. Don't make that mistake.

Other reasons for playing cricket include wanting to feel part of a team and needing to feel successful at something.

For naturally good players the second reason can easily be met without much effort. So while it seems they are not motivated, it is more like they no longer need to motivate themselves because they are already getting what they want from the game.

Your job with these players is to get them to fail.

You might put them in a better team, give them more difficult skills to learn or add pressure to them by setting harder and harder goals for them to reach. Eventually they will fail and failure will lead to them realising they need to put in more effort to be successful.

Take care though, as there is another reaction (which is more common in less talented players).

It's equal natural to respond to failure by putting in less effort.

Players like this are protecting themselves from failure not trying. That way they can always say they only failed because they "couldn't be bothered".

I'm sure you know a player or two like that.

Hand over responsibility

Once you know a players motivation you can start feeding it.

By far the easiest way to do this is to allow your team to control their development.

That doesn't mean giving free reign. But it does mean having the confidence and self-awareness give the right level of responsibility to a player. Research has shown that the more control people feel they have over situations the better they do.

The tricky part is knowing how far to go with each individual. That's where coaching becomes an art rather than a science, but once you are looking to do this, opportunities arise all the time:

  • Tactical decisions
  • Setting goals
  • Deciding how to achieve those goals

As coach, you would still be involved in this process. If a batsman is making a glaring technical error you would show them how to correct it for example. However, if they are mature enough perhaps they would decide when the corrective drills would be done. It would be a personal decision based on their own motivations.

For me, that's the key to motivation. It's not something you can deliver by shouting at someone, or even something you can coerce players into. Motivation is giving players enough responsibility so they do it themselves.

How do you motivate the players you coach? Leave a comment and let us know.

image credit: Kaustav Bhattacharya

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I think you said it right David. By giving responsibility over their actions, players are more likely to correct themselves (or at least ask for help). I would like to go one step further and that is to link responsibility to accountability. The main cause of disfunctional teams is lack of accountability.

I think that responsibility is an individual aspect and isn't inherently linked to a team. A player can feel responsible for himself, but not for the wellfare of the team, yet if you make them accountable for their actions in relation to the team goals, they will start to think.

The most important part being, as you said, clear goals supported by the team.

Interesting point, how would you do that Erik?

What I've done with my team this year, is to let them write down the answers to the following questions:

Why do you play cricket?
What do you want to achieve?
What does your ideal team look like?
What does your most dysfunctional team look like?
What does success mean to you?

By doing so, you let players think about themselves and the team and it creates very clear boundaries. By having set the boundaries, you can hold players accountable for crossing the line.

It is quite straight forward, yet hardly done even though, in my opinion, it is the most effective way of imparting responsibility and, in turn, accountability.

That's a great idea. I found a way to further this is to get the players to 'interview' each other about their motivations.

That's a good instrument as well. What I would add to this, is that the players also interview each other about their goals and maybe align their goals to their motivation. A recreational cricketer that wants to play international cricket isn't very realistic. He either has to change his motivation (recreational to performance) or change his goal (from playing international cricket to having fun). Otherwise he might become frustrated about not making it to the next level or for numerous other reasons, that can all be traced back to his motivation and goals not being aligned.

A professor of mine always says: "every organisation, club and team is perfectly aligned to get the results it gets".

I'd like to hear your views on this!