Teaching and coaching cricket to children of all ages can present a variety of different difficulties and challenges.
If you have taught and coached cricket to children you will know that not everyone listens intently to your every word.
The nightmare scenario which inevitably comes up once in a while is a group who seem determined on destroying any chance of developing skills. It’s frustrating; you are aiming to make every session fun as well as instructive, yet someone finds a way to be disruptive to your plans: asking irrelevant questions, getting bored after one try and trying to distract others.
The standard advice is “make it fun”, but what do you do when your best efforts to make things fun are disrupted?
Set housekeeping rules
Establish a list of dos and don’ts for lessons, training sessions and matches. Rules also harness an environment to create a good, fun, safe game or session for everyone.
Make a clear distinction between bad and unfair behaviour and good and acceptable behaviour. Players can behave badly by expressing frustration and anger by shouting and making a scene, all illustrations of poor or bad attitudes.
By harnessing and encouraging a good, positive attitude from your players, it will only prove beneficial and rub off on the group as a whole. This includes developing a culture of respect for teammates, opposing teams, teachers and coaches, parents, and match officials.
No two players or children are the same. Some may have higher attention spans or learn quicker than others. Some may have low self-esteem and require regular praise to help build their confidence. Some acquire and master different skills quicker and easier than others.
Encourage and ensure that all youngsters get the opportunity to do the same as everyone else. Treat each player on his or her own merit, according to their own skills levels and ability and development.
Inevitably you will find instances where some players get on better with others. Where rivalry exists, encourage healthy competition between payers, but reinforce the message that teammates are on the same side and working for the common goal of the team
Encourage fair play and respect
Complement each other for good play or skills during lessons, at training and during matches. Help your own players and shake hands if someone gets injured, compliment opposing players at the end of matches, accept and respect the decisions of officials.
Keep them interested
Youngsters have low boredom thresholds at the best of times. Keep everyone involved, present challenges and games, make them feel competent and confident in what they do, and above all, make activities fun.
Reinforce key messages on a regular basis
Once you have the basis in place, don’t forget to reinforce the messages and values you are trying to adhere to on a regular basis or as such time when the need arises
Develop a team spirit and unity
By developing a happy team spirit and environment, everyone gets to enjoy their lessons, training and matches. After all, that is what it is all about, and youngsters will keep coming back for more and to learn and develop.