Are Dads equipped to coach youth cricket?

Cricket Action

Every Saturday morning during the cricket season an army of volunteers go out to do duty in running junior (and even senior) club cricket. Without them, many teams and even clubs could not function.

However, not all of these “helpers” are helping. Many are failing the players, teams and clubs that they represent due to lack of knowledge, understanding or even the ability to engage with young cricketers, their parents or the opposition.

We have all seen them and should learn from the errors of their ways. Here are some stereotype characteristics of Dad coaches but these traits are not that exaggerated!!

1. The Dad “helping out”: Often forced into this role due to lack of suitable coaches within a club, this dad is offering a noble gesture to pick up the reins but can also cause major issues within team dynamics, team structures and parent relationships. Young players are desperate to bat and bowl and often their parents are even more desperate to see this happen. Dad coach is in an unenviable position of having to pick batting/bowling orders under the watchful eyes of players and parents alike! Some promote their less gifted child at the expense of the team, some bat or bowl their child lower than should happen at the expense of the child.

2. The Dad living his lack of sport through his child: These “coaches” are often the most dangerous to teams of young cricketers. Not having learnt themselves through experience of playing the game, its special moments and ambiguities they base their ”knowledge” on their armchair experience of the game. They can push their players to the very edge through unreasonable expectations, limited concept of how the game works or just sheer pressure on their child and their team to perform. How many young players have you seen visibly shrinking during a game with their parent/coach verbalising every tiny failure in their performance. These “coaches” can also often be seen slogging their young bowlers or bowling at full pace to their 10 year old junior batsmen in the nets.

3. The Unqualified Dad “Technical Coach”: Often linked to the above, these coaches are doing a massive disservice to their young charges. Teaching incorrect technique not only has implications on players’ skill sets but also can often lead to injury. A player needs to groove good habits, particularly from Under 10 upwards. They need to be shown good technique, tactical elements, teamwork, attitude, etiquette and respect for the game. All of these are often lost, damaging the prospects of all players involved.

4. The Competitive Dad: The testosterone flows too freely with these characters. They are often confrontational with other coaches and spectators and often push players away from the game with negative and often aggressive behaviour in the face of failure or defeat. Games are often played in unnecessarily hostile atmospheres and there is a fear of failure that transposes onto the team and reduces flair and enjoyment for the young players involved. Instead of looking for the positives and learning from mistakes these coaches undermine confidence and spoil the game for youngsters with critical tirades at the end of an innings or match.

5. The Pushy Dad: These coaches often do not understand the natural development process of young cricketers. They put intense pressure on their child and ultimately the team with exaggerated performance goals. Other players within the team are often overlooked or even shunned in favour of their own child. Not only does this damage the team dynamic it also puts untold or often unrecognized pressure on the coach’s son/daughter from their teammates.

Watch out for these characteristics from your child’s team coach. Talk to the club to remedy the situation before we lose youngsters to the game.

Editor’s Comment

Volunteer coaches are an important part of the South African sporting scene, so what can you as a Dad or Mum do to contribute in an effective manner to continue to grow and develop our childrens’ sporting experiences. Positive parent involvement is important so how can you achieve this?

  • Attend a coaching course recognised by the appropriate sporting organisation
  • Partner with a qualified coach to act as your mentor
  • Coach a different team from the one that your child plays in
  • Communicate your philosophy on coaching to parents and children
  • Encourage positive involvement from other like minded parents
  • Develop a code of conduct for you, your team and the parents
  • Treat all players with equal attention and reinforce the efforts of all players
  • Teach sportsmanship and fair play
  • Understand the history and etiquette of the sport you are coaching
  • Practise Kaizen – continuous learning and improvement of yourself and your charges
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