TASmanian Sport & Coaching Collective
TASmanian Sport & Coaching Collective


girl cricket
Photograph: Nick Wilkinson

The ‘B-word’ is the Best Word

What is the most important word in community and junior sport coaching?
Let’s run a few scenarios to find out.

How good is it seeing a hockey player belt a tomahawk, glove side of the goalie in the top corner for the opposite side of the goal mouth?

How good is it seeing an AFL footballer kicking for goal on the check side of the boot from a tighter than 45-degree angle?

How good is it seeing a wicketkeeper diving full stretch to his left from a left handed batter off the fast bowler?

All pretty cool stuff really. Makes the highlight real, might get you votes, get you seen by talent scouts or selectors but is it what you, as a coach, wasn’t in your players?

Let’s have a second look.

How good is it seeing a hockey player in the same position blast it over the crossbar?

How good is it seeing a footballer hit the fat side of the footy and kick it out on the full?

How good is it seeing a wicketkeeper drop a catchable catch?

All poor results but at least the player had a crack didn’t he?

Let’s have a third look.

How good it is seeing a hockey player, on the left-hand side of the goals, take an extra step to get his body around, square the ball up to the spot for an easy tap in form a teammate?

How good is it seeing footballer have the presence of mind of mind to take a step, steady and kick a drop punt from the same ankle for the same result?

How good it is seeing the wicketkeeper moving swiftly to his left and taking the ball by his left hip?

All good results, not spectacular but did the job get done without fanfare?

What sort of coach are you?

How would you like to see your player pull the trigger, go for glory and nail something memorable or do the team thing score the less that remarkable goal that puts your team in front?

Me, I’m a big fan of player executing the basics. I look at hockey as my sport of choice in this  regard and I see teams and players who can not nail the basics but can do the incredible.

For example there are players who can drag flick, tomahawk and overhead balls for days but can they do the three most basic things in the game? Trap, hit and shot on target.

If you trap the ball, you have the option to hit it, if you have the option to hit it, you have the option to shoot for goal, if your shot for goal is on target, two things could happen….you score or you force a save from the keeper.

It’s a basic game. If you score more goals than your opponent you win, If you win regularly you will play finals, if you win finals you get a trophy and maybe a medal or something.

What I’m getting at is that basics is what brings most teams and individuals unstuck. The inability to do the fundamentals of a sport and a dedication to learning the extravagant skills like drag flocking, helicopter shots in cricket, checkside shots for goal in footy, scoring threes in basketball or poor scrumming techniques in rugby.
Think about the sport you coach. If you a had to describe it some someone from Mars, how would you dumb it down for the Martian? What basic skills would you teach them to get them through the door and playing your sport? 

I believe that this is what we should be coaching, particularly at a community or junior level. 

At a representative level, sure, teach the player a bit extra but it is a MUST that the basics are taught and junior and community level so that the rep coach knows they have something to work with, a basic understanding of the game on which to build a campaign on.

So, there it is, the most important word in community and junior sport coaching has been mentioned eight times in this blog.

I won’t give you the answer, as Kobe Bryant said, “good coaches will show you where the fish are while the best coaches will teach you how to find them.”

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