All professionals want to provide value for money.
It doesn’t always seem good enough to deliver a good session. You also need to be PERCEIVED to be doing a good job.
10 years after starting the job, and i still frequently get that sensation, of parental eyes burning into my back. Expectations may be high, or a certain way of doing things may be preferred. There will be novices who seem to think they are experts in your field. Some will assume that you are making sessions up as you go along….a spontaneous approach, rather than the huge care and detail you are pouring into your work.
Some of these frictions you will just have brush off. But there are ways you can reassure onlookers; little gestures that convey to the outside observer that you are under control.
Of course, you know what you are doing. But here’s how to help prove it beyond doubt.
Make sure you:
- Explain the content of the session explicitly. state the aims and goals at the outset. It stops players from second-guessing whether you are going anywhere with your lesson. If a parent or child still has a problem with your work, at least you have already outlined the principles of the session. Can prevent you from being put onto the defensive.
- Keep an eye out for everybody. This sounds easy, but in reality, unless you are very observant, the odd child can become disengaged (or at least appear to be). Being perceptive to this, you can at least ask if they are feeling alright….demonstrating that you care for everyone’s welfare. Which, of course, you do! But it helps to visibly reassure.
- Position yourself in the centre of the action. Obviously, within reason. The session is about the players, not you. Just ensure you are in a place where you can see 99% of what goes on, and intervene if necessary.
If you need to address an individual, and take yourself away from the heart of the session, ask a colleague to keep one eye out for any trouble in your area!
If this isn’t possible, try and keep your feedback short and sweet – safety comes first, effecting change second – and get back to your post!
- Paint a “future picture” for the group – sometimes, people may worry where you are going with your long term program. “Are they going to cover _____?” “Will there be any hard ball this year?” Give your group an insight into the topics you’ll be covering in the next 2-3 weeks.
Promise them, “we’ll have that big match/net soon, as long as you work hard next week”. ie/ we will do fun things……but we have targets to hit first!
- Mingle with parents – a little bit of small-talk before and after the session never goes amiss. A good way of demonstrating that you care.
- DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY – the hardest thing of all. Pouring your heart and soul into your work, only for none of the graft to be acknowledged. And to compound the injustice, any slight lapse in judgement will be latched onto…..”surely you should have noticed that _____”.
As hurtful as some comments can feel, most often they stem from a misunderstanding. It’s worth also remembering that you, child and parent will have had a long day. Everyone is calmer and more reflective the next morning. Think twice before you send that arsey email 10 minutes after the session!!
Look out for:
- Hard ball obsessives – some managers or parents simply won’t accept that a meaningful practice can take place without a hard ball. Everything for this band needs to be done faster, harder, better. They neglect to see the importance of technique. Players need to master these fine movements, and gain confidence with them, in order to thrive against hard ball.
Often this will be the parent of the child who grew up with a bat in hand….and assumes children have “got it”, or “haven’t”. Players are often dismissed as “scared of the ball” too quickly. We forget that a player needs to be equipped with the skills to defend themselves first. Even the most timid batsmen can cope with hostility if they are well trained to do so.
Stick to your guns in this situation. Explain the benefits, and point towards the results.
- “They’re just standing around” – cricket, being a taking turns based game, will involve a little patience. Sometimes, you feel deliver what you feel to be a very successful session….only for someone to complain that their boy/girl has felt left out.
Fortunately coaching activities have evolved over the years, to incorporate as many players simultaneously. However, at some point, a young player will have to deal with the waiting game. Learning to “seize your moment” is as integral to cricket.
There aren’t many walks of life where a child will learn to develop this quality anymore!