The Common Sense Way to Coach Kid's Cricket
Why do kids play cricket? If you know the answer to that then you know the secret to coaching younger players.
I have been coached by several people over the years. I coached my first team in the summer of 1994. In that time have seen many coaches who could answer that question and had access to the secret.
Yet somehow their coaching does not reflect the answers they give.
This is causing young players to leave the game.
How does this happen? Like everyone else, children will only want to do things they are motivated by. As coaches it is our number 1 priority to meet children's needs so they stay in the game. Doing this will direct the way that you coach.
Fun, fun, fun
An overwhelming amount of research shows that children play sport to have fun. They may also want to make friends, enjoy the challenge or please their parents but if it isn't fun, there is no point.
That's common sense.
Heck, I'm just the same. I'm sure you are too.
To many coaches this is at odds of their own motivations. Here is where things start to fall down. We have all met the coach who is determined to win at all costs and makes sure his star players open the batting, open the bowling and field in the key positions.
The best players get all the game and they win so the coach is happy.
What about the other kids in the team?
How many stick around if all they do is bat at 11 and field fine leg to mid on?
It's the same story with the coach who is focused on technical excellence. We all want kids to have good technique but demonstrations and drills get dull after a while.
It's natural to focus on the nuts and bolts of what to do and forget about how you are delivering that message. If it's not in a fun way we are not doing our jobs as coaches.
Putting fun into cricket
How do we make things fun while also teaching important technical and tactical skills to kids? Here is how I do it:
- Involve as many kids as possible all the time. This is a no brainer. If you are teaching bowling then get them to bowl to each other in pairs. Keep drills short and sharp and make sure no one is standing around waiting for something to do. Unless you are coaching one to one, never give one to one advice and make others wait.
- Do something new every time. Some coaches use the same drills and games every week. While key practices are essential to repeat, children love variety. That means doing something every session that this group has never done before. It also challenges you to come up with things.
- Intervene as little as possible with as few points as possible. Again intervention means inaction and kids hate inaction. If you have to intervene with coaching points keep them short and at most use 2 points. Any more will not go in and will become boring.
- Encourage independent thinking. Rather than telling all the answers all the time, try and draw some ideas from the children. Ask them what they think they should do or if they know what is going right or wrong. It will stop them switching off and keep them involved.
- Always play a game. Games are fun and if they are tied into the skill you have been developing it allows practice in a competitive environment. Just make sure everyone gets a bat!
Is there really anything wrong with enjoyment over winning?
Kids play cricket to have fun first and win second. If you make every moment a pleasure for them then they will keep coming back, keep practising and get so good they will win anyway, right?
Now get out there and have some fun.
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Agree with most of the article David, the main problem I encounter is not the kids themselves but the one or two (many more at some clubs) parents who would really question 'Is there really anything wrong with enjoyment over winning?', which then feeds through to their kids.
We have tried really hard at my club to put improvement and participation as the main goals for the youth teams, with reasonable success on both fronts, but it only takes a couple of 'over eager' parents to throw that off course, usually starting with the justification 'all kids love to win...'
On a match night, my main goal is a final over finish and if I know the opposition coach and team well enough we can often get there or thereabouts whilst ensuring all 22 kids have taken a full part the match.
I'd change the title to Fun, Fun, Win, Fun. Lets face it winning is fun and losing week in week out is not!
The key is to change the first question that parents ask their child - 'did you win?' to something else. The ideal would be asking whether they enjoyed themselves or similar to gauge whether or not they enjoyed the game/activity.
I try to employ a range of targets and goals with the aim to dilute the whole win/lose agenda. It may be we want to score so many runs, to take so many wickets, to improve performance in a certain area as well as occasionally targeting a game as a win/draw (after all you do have to learn to win/lose at some point). That way the actual result of the game becomes less important and the 'success' element less defined as it changes from game to game, practice to practice.
Dear David .
i have 13yr old son, he started playing cricket 3 yrs back this is his 4 th year in progress.
recently he has started to play against the bowling machine . he is purely a front foot player with nice check drives at speed around 70miles, around 75 miles he is not able to drive but defend ball in front foot.
his problem is back foot strokes to be specific cut and pull as he is able to play defense and flick from the hip to the short ball
even if the ball is slow and short he is not able to play the pull or cut, there is big difference to his front foot and back foot play
i have 3 questions to you.
1) what is the problem do you attribute to
2) how can this be rectified
3) is he lacking hand eye coordination
i will be highly grateful if you can help me on this.