A long time ago in another life I was a fitness instructor at a big gym.
Even back in the late 90's people would tell me at their first sessions that they didn't want to get too bulky. They wanted to tone up. As we know, it's all but impossible to accidentally get too big.
What's this got to do with cricket coaching?
Well, what was happening in that gym happens on cricket pitches all over the world.
We make assumptions. Mostly those assumptions are right and we couldn't live very well if every little detail needed to be explained all the time. It's a good thing we do so.
But sometimes those assumptions are wrong and they hold us back. Like assuming weightlifting will make you bulky. Or you have to be side on when batting
As a coach (or fitness instructor) your job is to change those assumptions. It's not easy to do but you can make a start instantly just by changing the language you use.
In fitness terms this might mean saying "using resistance to improve power and speed while reducing injury risk". This is a lot more attractive than "working to failure", although it is exactly the same thing.
As a coach you can break down player assumptions in the same way:
- Encouraging development of all-round skills, both as a cricketer and in more general athletic skills like running, jumping, changing direction and throwing.
- Pointing out what a player should be doing rather than what he or she is not doing.
- Giving feedback on positive technical points as well as negative ones.
The most important element of this is being open-minded yourself. As coaches we can't break down the assumptions of others if we carry too many wrong ones ourselves. Other than the weightlifting myth, some of the assumptions I see regularly include:
- Winning is more important than fun for young players.
- Fast bowlers only need to bowl to get fit.
- Protein is bad for your kidneys.
- You can either bowl fast or line and length, not both.
- You need to train your forearms to be a better batsman.
- All you need to do at training is have a bat and bowl in the net.
- Sport psychology is only for the crazy.
I'm sure you come across many assumptions in the players you coach. This is especially true of younger players. Simply by the way you speak you can eliminate them and help them become better.
Image credit: steeljam