To me, these thoughts of Andrew Beaven made me think about the way kids learned to play cricket back in the old days: Free play in the park, street or playground.
Jumpers for goalposts, as the saying goes.
The world has changed a great deal since those days. We can no longer rely on players who arrive at sessions with a cricket instinct, passion and purpose honed from watching and playing the game informally with their mates.
We need to coach it.
It sounds counter-intuitive to those of us who grew up this way, but now it’s the job of the coach to build this lifelong passion and excitement. That means less formal stiffness and doing things “properly” and more informal, chaotic, laugh-out-loud fun.
When at the top of their game, a coach empowers people to do their own learning. And the only way - in my mind - to do that is to let go of structure and play the game as the raw problem-solving fun mess it was when we did it in the back yard with a tennis ball, a dustbin for stumps and special rules for when you hit the ball into the old ladies’ garden.
We can’t get back to those times, but we can tap into the core of what made them so great.
It’s my purpose to guide players towards their purpose at every session, whatever level of player I coach. While I can never be sure it will accelerate performance compared to other techniques, I can be sure it keeps them coming back for more.