Mini Victories: part 2

Below are some selected positive moments from the last week of coaching. Hearing about each of these (and many more) cheered me up in a difficult week!

No matter whether you are playing senior cricket, or your first ever junior match, well done for trying your best. Enjoy your success!

Congratulations to Harawal Ahmed. His 48 not out helped Mitcham 1st XI to a big win in the Fuller’s League, this Saturday!

A well deserved score, after some early season bad luck! Well done!

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Congratulations to Ernest Bevin U13s, who played with fantastic unity – and a lot of skill – in Tuesday’s game.

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Taufeeq Ahmed scored 20 runs and took 2 wickets, for St James CC. Over the winter, he has worked incredibly hard on his confidence with the bat, and strategies with the ball. It’s beginning to pay off!

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Ewell CC U8s won their first ever game! Everyone involved, from the children to brilliant volunteer coaches, deserves lots of credit!

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Player of the week: Shree

At the Twenty20 Academy, our coaches work hard with every player, to develop a game that suits them, and that they are comfortable with. We also try and make our player’s more adaptable, and able to stay in control of the match situation.

In an effort to make the step up to adult cricket, Shree has been developing his range of shots, and a more attacking game…..to go with his resolute defence and concentration.

He has been working hard on positive movements, and setting up his swing, to allow the option of playing powerful drives, pull shots.

He has also very quickly learnt how to manage and build a long innings. This involved improving his glances and deflections, giving him the ability to rotate strike….a crucial part of shifting pressure onto the bowler.

Why I wrote this blog….

There’s no need to brag….

Sometimes it feels that as coaches, we get too obsessed about looking good in front of our peers.

I remember a couple of years back, attending a Chance2Shine workshop.

In the Q&A section, one person raised a perfectly reasonable question: “What should we do if it rains?” It’s a valid point, that rain could put the spanner in the works of a carefully planned session. Not many schools have adequate space to do a meaningful activity, that stays fun and inclusive…….

“I successfully coached 30 kids in a badminton court”, one twenty-something man, sporting a Surrey jacked, exclaimed.

OK. I’m listening.

“Well, it’s just about organizing the space into small groups. In one quarter, I played continuous cricket, in another quarter I had a catching game……

Hmmmmm.

……a game of hand hockey in the third quarter, and in the fourth…”

Oh did you. Did you REALLY.

In conclusion, no….no you didn’t. This coach had either a) been privileged to work on behalf of the best behaved, most observant and able group on planet earth, or b) had exaggerated his story to a ludicrous degree.

Does this really help your colleagues rise to challenges? Or does it set unrealistic expectations. Many coaches around the table were newly qualified. I would argue that overstating your “solutions” only serves to intimidate inexperienced coaches.

At the other end of the spectrum….

Everything is “ridiculous”. All groups are, “too old”, “too young”, “too big”, “too small”. They, “don’t want to be here”, and “behave like animals”. 

Again, there is no point lying about your situation, or saying that everything brilliant. But there is a difference between frank honesty, and simply playing a blame game. Throwing toys out of the pram is never going to make your life easier.

At least exhaust some options, seek support, or consult others for a Plan B/C, before you abandon all hope. If you don’t at least try this, your attitude will just breed resentment.

There will always be coaches who have an uncanny ability of attaching themselves to anything good……and dissociating themselves from failures.

Such coaches won’t dig in when the going gets tough.

Do you want to be a coach like that? Or do you want to be proud of all the work you do….not just those jobs where the dice were loaded in your favour?

This blog: honesty, empathy, solutions

There HAS to be a middle ground, between, “I can do anything if I set my mind to it” (hopelessly unrealistic) and , “the kids just don’t want to be here this is ridiculous”. 

This blog is intended as a frank, honest, reflection on coaching, as a career or volunteer. Warts and all. 

To be honest, nearly every job in community coaching involves some adversity. Groups are large, support may be inexperienced (or unwilling). You tend to be delivering sessions at awkward times, after a long day, when tempers and concentration spans will inevitably be strained.

You are fighting to change the tide of opinion. The onus is on you to convince children that cricket is the sport to play….not the other way round. Be prepared for a battle.

Finding a way forwards

It is VITAL to discuss the difficulties that you will have to confront. And to get through these, you need pragmatic solutions, not ridiculously fanciful ones. 

You have to be able to reflect on your own performance. Be truthful to yourself; have you done the best you could – sometimes there genuinely is nothing you could have done to change your fortunes – or, looking back, is there anything you’d do differently.

In my opinion, the best suited people to this job, will criticize themselves a little more than is justified. But as a result, they are more likely to turn tough situations around positively.

In an ideal world, these coaches will have a tight network of colleagues – to reassure them that they are doing a good job, to talk to, and discuss potential solutions with.

 

Why I coach?

  1. I am acutely aware how lucky I have been – my upbringing has been fortunate, not only from an economic perspective. I had the luxury of sampling tens of activities, and my parents put the time and faith into helping pursue my passions.
    This job allows me to give children from all backgrounds a taste of what could be. And provide further opportunities to play if they enjoy cricket. You can start children on a course for life!
  2. You CAN do this! – even if cricket isn’t a child’s passion, I can at least use the sport to enhance their skills and coordination. Sometimes success isn’t gauged in how many County cricketers you can produce. Just allowing someone to conquer a challenge, or perform a feat they never thought they’d be able to do (or were scared to try), is a triumph for them.
  3.  I want cricket to be seen as a sport for all – it feels that there are still associations of cricket as a “private school” game. But there is no need for it to be.
    Of course there are advantages to being introduced to cricket early, and having access to the best facilities. But sadly, many children who start cricket a bit later in life, don’t realise how good they can be. I want to change that wherever possible.
  4. You can teach qualities beyond the field – patience, building things up over time, taking turns and looking out for the group’s needs, to name a few. I like to use cricket to demonstrate life principles, such as not looking for excuses in life, setting aside annoyances, and always looking forwards with optimism, as well. Cricket emphasises these truths more than many other sports.
  5. Cricket appeals to different personalities – I was a shy boy growing up. One reason I was drawn to cricket as a small child, because you could express yourself with actions. I continue to appreciate this about the sport….the range of ways you can stand out, and prove your value to a team. You don’t have to be the loudest or (necessarily) the biggest.
  6. I need it! – coaching (for all it’s difficult, tearing-out-hair moments) is good for my self esteem. I like having a tangible effect on cricketers’ ability and confidence. That feeling gives me energy and purpose, inside and outside work.
    When I am feeling down, there are plenty of moments in coaching that will lift your spirits.I don’t know what I’d do without it!

Player of the week: Sameer

Twenty20 work with Ernest Bevin School in Tooting.

Our activities there include developing a 6th form academy, PE lessons for lower year group squads, and a Saturday morning club, available to anyone in the local area.

Sameer has attended every week of the year so far, and his commitment is clear to see in his performances!

He is an attacking batsman, with a powerful sweep shot. As well as developing his strengths, n the last 3 months he has hugely expanded his all-round batting….adding a solid defensive shot and deft off-side strokes to his armory.

On top of this, Sameer’s ripping leg-spin makes him a genuine all-rounder. Below is an example of him learning to get maximum control and movement in his bowling…..with just a few subtle tweeks!

Summer 2017 is just round the corner! Good luck to Sameer, and all our cricketers!

Player of the week: Marcus

You don’t have to be a county standard player to stand out. We help cricketers of all standards, and levels of experience, reach their potential…..which is much higher than they often believe!

Most of all we ensure our players reach a point where they find enjoyment out of the game of cricket.

Having only taken up hard ball cricket 2 months ago, Marcus has taken on board a host of new skills….proving to everyone what can be achieved with a good attitude, and plenty of effort.

Every session he attends, Marcus is making breakthroughs, and experiencing a new “personal best” regularly. Last Sunday, his bowling improved leaps and bounds, adding a short run-up and follow through into his action.

Player of the week: Tiam

Twenty20 Academy works with ambitious young cricketers from around Surrey, Middlesex and South London.

Tiam Afshar is one of out best young talents. Having picked up a cricket bat at a Twenty20 session, he is now flying through the ranks, and breaking into senior cricket.

At our Academy he has been fine tuning his batting, becoming more resilient and independent. He is now able to identify flaws in his own game, and remedy them during an innings. He is also developing his consistency as a part-time bowler.

We are providing detailed feedback and training videos, to help our Academy players cement their improvement.