All coaches have limited time with people. Naturally we want the best ways to help them improve. The instinct is to start telling players what to do. So, every new coach is taught not to bombard players with information. Even the most coachable take in one or two points at most. 

I think in reality that is a hopelessly optimistic view. 

My guess is that it is more like one point in a hundred that gets through.

I think a two-way method is a lot more effective. There is less telling and more trying. This makes coaching a process of self-discovery by the cricketer, guided by the coach during a session.  When the player is building their own solutions they are more likely to be able to access them in the heat of a cricket match.

Of course, all this requires a certain frame of mind from the players and coach.

Coachable cricketers

"Coachable" does not mean listening to your every instruction. It means they are aware of your knowledge, open to discussion, ready to try some things out and are mindful of the results. Every coach wants a player like this to coach.

Recently, another coach I trust mentioned coachability varies; both between and within players. You always get the stubborn players who have their way. You also get the players who just want to be told what to do. My favourite variation of this type is the person who want to be told, doesn’t listen to the answer they asked for and blames the coach for not helping (yes, this has happened to me).

None of these responses are coachable.

You also get players who get the idea quickly, buy into the method and put the work in with focus and mindfulness. These are the golden coachable players.

However, people are fickle. Depending on things like mood and time we can be more or less coachable. It can even be as simple as being a morning person or an evening person. Your brain is ready when it’s ready.

This has been a revelation to my coaching.

When I struggled to help more difficult types, I switched my thinking from “this player can’t be coached” to “this player is not coachable right now”. Instead of giving up, I spend time trying to work out what will help get people into that coachable mindset.

I have spent almost entire one-to-one hours talking to some players who prefer to do their thinking through chat. I’ve also done nothing with players other than throw a lot of Sidearm at them while they work things out by doing. Mostly it's trying to find a balance.

I’ve made the most of times when people are “on” and I’ve even abandoned the odd session when individuals are “off”. Of course in a group setting you have to get through it, but I often find myself dropping back to something that’s silly and fun instead of worrying too much about coaching people in an disengaged frame of mind.

Find that place where people are most coachable.

Lights on coaching

Occasionally, you’ll click into sync with a player or a group. The lights go on. The session flows seamlessly with fun, engagement and learning at full blast. 

They happen rarely because everyone needs to be in the right frame of mind. That said, I’m convinced you can have an influence as a coach with your language and behaviour.

I go in with energy, enthusiasm and determination. I get the feel for the room and adapt my language and behaviour to try and guide everyone to the light switch. I hope my chimp brain doesn’t sabotage me too much by putting me in a bad mood. We have all been there.

Sometimes everyone comes with you. The curtain goes up and the lights come on.

Mostly it’s fine without being great.

You just have to get through those days. You can't win every session. Sometimes, despite your valiant efforts nobody learns anything. Don't beat yourself up. People are amazing, frustrating, wonderful and different to you.

Keep searching to get everyone in the coachable mindset. Keep working to keep yourself in that adaptable frame of mind so anyone who is coachable can get coaching.

It’s really the only option.

For me, I coach better when I let my ego fall away and focus on doing my best every time despite what I get back. I know sometimes I will fail. I’m a human. I know sometimes those I coach won't pick up what I put down. They are human. But when my lights are on, and everyone I’m coaching is the same, we make some magic cricket.

What’s your perspective?

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe