Jordan Finney is a cricket coach and sport psychology degree student. In this article he talks about talent and hard work.
All coaches have the story: The kind of player that doesn’t set the world alight but is a great "fill in" and cracking team guy.
They are often overlooked in favour of the "natural".
Yet, if you have someone who is a genuine lover of the game, and willing to graft then that is the player to invest your time in, because the chances are you will begin to unearth a star.
Players with these traits are like sponges for information. They take all of it in and put it into practice the best they can. They commit themselves to getting the very best out of each and every practice, and never go away feeling like they have not developed.
These players with receptive personalities always question. They always want to improve, and continually ask what the next step is or what they can be doing better. These players deserve all the time in the world, because attitude and receptiveness are the most important factors in development.
Let me give you an example.
I first started coaching a youngster when he was 9 years old. He was a tall strong lad for his age, but had very minimal levels of coordination and looked like he didn't know which end of the bat to hold. His balance was everywhere. Our coaching sessions were based around basic movements, maintaining balance and striking the ball from a strong base.
What I noticed was not only his will to get better through questioning, but his genuine love of the game and his dedication to practice.
I saw these qualities in abundance. He would continually question me about his game, about what he should be looking to do and get out of this practice and was a real joy to coach. When I would be taking other coaching sessions I would see him turn up at the cricket club with his Dad, get out the tennis balls and look to replicate good positions over and over again. He would beg his Dad to go to the nets so he could do hours of extra practice - proper practice - away from our sessions.
This young players attitude allowed him to progress to his first hard ball game that season, as we began to make him look something like a cricketer.
The following year we worked all winter on developing him, and at the start of the summer set out goals to help him gain a position in the club's "A" side by the end of the season.
This player once again showed dedication, a will to succeed and self-discipline, throwing himself into every practice with me, and then still practising all the things I introduced to him on his own with his Dad in every spare minute he could. Not only did this young player then achieve his selection, he got invited to the Regional Performance Centre for the County.
Progressing onto this summer, he has not changed in attitude and approach, and has achieved once again getting into the Regional Performance Centre summer squad: Just going to show that attitude, receptiveness to coaching and a genuine will to get better will always help you achieve.
This young player's discipline to practice away from formal coaching is also what sets him out, he doesn’t practice bad habits like most his age, he is always looking to play the correct way and what is right for him. I have coached many a naturally talented player, but it is the players this boy that make you the proudest as a coach as they dig deep and fight for everything they get.
The just goes to show how much can be achieved for a lad who was initially relatively uncoordinated and with minimal "natural" ability.
Personality traits are key to someone being receptive to coaching, in the same way that the coach needs to adapt.
It also shows that natural ability isn't everything, and no player should be ignored, because with the right personal attributes and dedication to training, anyone can develop and become far more than they ever expected they could be.