There are as many different styles of coaching as there are cricket coaches. Some things are changeable based on your personality and philosophy as a coach, but there are 4 pillars for every coach. These are the things that you take to every session, without question.
1. Never take away a players belief: always build
Lancashire, Sussex and England coach Peter Moores taught me a huge lesson when we were at the T20 World Cup in 2008.
A player was ripping into another player, being sarcastic about the other players cricket and technique.
Peter took immediate action, pulled the offending player to one side;
"The lowest thing a coach or player can do is take away the belief of a team-mate".
That sounds like a no-brainer, yet whilst coaching in indoor centres and grounds around the world I hear coaches asking players questions such as "John, are you batting with a hologram down there?" because the player has played and missed.
The other day I was introduced by a coach to a player who said, this is "Amy, she is a batter who is scared of the ball, looks good in the net but she never scores runs in the middle!"
I was shocked, chose to correct the poor use of language and then spent the next 30 minutes rebuilding the belief that the other coach had stripped from the player.
Be aware of your words, your actions and the impact that those words can have on a player.
2. Seek out root causes out and apply solutions: coach for long term gain
"You’re losing your wrist, keep your fingers behind the ball!" and "Your collapsing on your back leg, stand up taller!" are two coaching observations that are all too common in sessions around the world.
Yes, those two things are happening yet what is the root cause?
Is the solution to those technical observations really as simple as keeping the wrist behind the ball or standing up tall on your back leg?
Of course not.
Those things are happening as a consequence of the root cause and unless the root cause is treated, the problem will quickly return.
It's our job as coaches to find the root cause behind any challenge that a player is having. Where does it stem from? Work your way back to root cause.
If you treat the root cause then the solution will emerge and then the learning will be longer lasting rather than a quick fix that breaks down under match pressure.
3. Every player and every session is special: be inspirational
When someone comes to your coaching session, do they come with a tag on their shirt telling you where they will go in the game or what role the game will play in their lives?
Of course not.
Therefore, we should coach each session with optimal enthusiasm, drive, enjoyment and passion.
I'm coaching a 18 year old player at the moment who is likely to become a good 2nd Team Cricketer rather than a professional cricketer yet who is loving the sessions, hanging onto each word, asking great questions and is developing well.
He is now really looking forward to playing local club cricket this summer.
Yes, his cricket is improving, but the most pleasing result with this player is that he has just started his ECB Level2 coaching course, is passionate about working with others in the future and about working within the game. I have a sense that this persons impact will be significant he will coach and inspire many others to take up the game in the future.
I hope that my sessions and coaching have inspired him and I predict that he will inspire others through his coaching and his own character in the future.
4. coach your best: you never know who you are coaching
17 years ago, a 3 year old boy walked into his 1st coaching session with a Coach at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.
The Coach was bubbly, positive, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, friendly, fun and focused on developing the potential in every one of those 20 or so players that were standing in front of him.
That coach could not predict what level those players would attain in their careers and it didn't matter. It was about giving them all an enthusiastic, fun, informative positive cricket experience.
Most of those boys are still playing and enjoying the game at Ventnor CC or for other clubs around the world. Some have gone on to become coaches in their own right.
The coach was my Dad.
The then 3 year old was Danny Briggs, England's new left arm spinner who will make his ODI debut against Pakistan in the next 2 weeks.
Danny's positive and early cricketing experiences were essential.
It helped in encouraging his participation in the game, igniting the passion that he has for cricket and refining the techniques, mindsets, perspectives and competitiveness that have underpinned his rapid rise from a 3 year old playing kwik cricket to International cricketer.
The role of the coach in this process is significant so coach your best, always!