“They just don’t want to be there”: avoiding the cliche

The single most common complaint after an unruly session: “it’s like they just don’t want to be here”!

As soon as these words come out of your mouth, you’re finished. Even if the body is willing, you have already given up mentally. On any prospect that these children will gain anything. Your hope that things can make a turn for the better will vanish. Negativity breeds complacency, which breeds more negativity.And by proving your own statement to be true,  you are making your life even more difficult.

Nobody is suggesting  it’s easy. In fact the opposite is true. You are probably even correct. Certain children might not show any signs of interest. They may have been registered by their parents, with no consultation. Cricket they know little of, and care to find out less. They don’t want to be here….

….Yet. Don’t give up entirely on them.

Generating a buzz

The more I coach, the more i realize the power of group mentality. Very few children (or adults) have the willpower to break against the mood of the group. This can work against you, but can also be a powerful tool. See if you can capture and use it to your advantage.

Be imaginative. Search for something….anything….that captures the imagination. As soon as you can create a buzz, this is your moment to shine. To achieve this, you might even have to drift away from cricket.

If you stumble upon a successful game, make it a tradition. Such routines can generate the excitement you need, leading to perhaps gain some more engagement for the sport specific activity.

Example game: capture the flag. Burns off some energy, involves a ball and basic strategy.

Remember the situation

Coaches operate at extreme ends of the day. Before school, after school, evenings. Times when we are not necessarily at our peak of concentration. It’s unrealistic to expect perfect behavior/attentiveness on your every word.

Ironically, some of the most troublesome schools for clubs, are ones with strict in-class discipline. Children who have been trapped in silence, will naturally revert to the other extreme when the gates are opened.

Try and be sympathetic to these situations. Getting to know your crowd is important. You can established right away certain activities that will and won’t work.

Seek help

If you are really struggling, be honest with the people in charge. Find a constructive way to tell them that you are finding the group to be a handful, or that “an extra pair of hands” will remedy the situation.

Dealing with frustration, and finding a positive outcome, beats internal struggling and ranting every time. Maybe help will be found.

Be disciplined….but give them a “way back in”

You have to be strong. If  child crosses the line, it has to mean something.

In early years, i often fell into the trap of making concessions, to misbehaving children – just to buy some peace. Even if this makes your life easier in the short term, it will bite you in the long term.

But, every week has to be considered a fresh start. If you are still holding onto grievances from last week, what excuse has the child not to? Think very carefully before you exclude for good. Very, very few children should be condemned.


The world is made up of children who like cricket, and children who like cricket, but don’t know it yet.

Yeah, it’s rubbish isn’t it – and sounds like it belongs on a particularly nauseating Facebook meme (#ilovemondays)! I understand you can’t convert everyone. But if you go into work with this state of mind, you’ll be surprised at the unlikely figures you manage to turn around.

Sometimes it will take years to discover if you have made an impact. Your influence might be intangible, or become apparent well into the future.

There aren’t many solutions in the above text. But acknowledging the scale of your task is part of the process, if you want to cope for long periods. Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies at all costs! Stop craving immediate wins, and get ready to grind out results.

The growth of cricket depends on these converts. Bring along as many as you can.

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