Saturday, December 8, 2007

So who's a good coach?

With so much talk about the Indian cricket team's coach's selection I wonder what goes into the making of a good coach as per the selection committee. But at the very beginning I must say that I find it hard to subscribe to the following views:

1) A coach must have performed better than his wards to be able to coach

2) The wards can pick and choose their coaches based on personal reasons

3) A coach is selected based on his being foreign or Indian

4) A coach is selected because he has been a good player before

To get things in perspective let us understand what coaching actually means to players at the highest level. It is not 'training' where basics are taught to newcomers. Coaching is bringing out excellence; uncovering true potential in players.

To quote Peter Honey:
"Coaching is any discussion between you and a subordinate where the aim is to help him/her maintain and/or improve his/her performance. Coaching takes place on the job and assumes that people can learn from everything they do. Coaching is not issuing instructions, telling someone what to do or prescribing how to do it. It is about helping, guiding, encouraging, allowing space to perform and do things differently."

I think that sums up a coach's job nicely. Constant improvement to bring out the best in people.

To me a coach needs to have the following attributes.

1) He must be the best qualified man 'technically' i.e. the man with the knowledge to spot areas to improve in his players.

2) He must have the wisdom to gauge the potential of his wards and make his wards aware of the gap between their potential and performance.
3) He must be a motivator who knows which buttons to press to bring the best out of his wards.

4) He must be completely devoted to the task of bringing out the best in his wards, as individuals and as a team.

Simply put, a coach is committed to bring out the best in each individual, and as a team, in every way. The argument begins and ends there.

To think that because one is a Tendulkar or a Dravid or a Laxman, one does not need a coach is a hollow argument, because it suggests that there is nothing else for the players to learn. Hopefully that is not what on the minds of the players and the people who select the coaches because then the entire premise is wrong.

As for the wards, they need to take the idea of improvement and of giving their best seriously as well. Which means that they will have to kill ego and learn from everything they do and everyone they meet. If the players feel that they can only learn from certain people in a certain way then you are actually closed to the idea of learning-which is the beginning of the end.

It need hardly be stressed that a coach need not be a good player in his days. As most players realize, all the theory and thinking seems to happen well after the playing days so it is only a matter of how interested an individual is, in equipping himself technically of the finer nuances of the game. A person who has a basic scheme of understanding of all areas of the game, who is totally open to new areas of learning, who is looking to improve his knowledge all the time is better than say, someone who thinks he has been a good player, so he can automatically coach well.

A good coach will show improvement in the players in a short while - even as short a time frame as a mere session. Over a longer period these reflect in performances. To be knowledgeable one need not be of any nationality, of any particular training or pedigree - the improvement is there for all to see.

No comments: