Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Quiet Coach

The saying goes, the quieter you are the more you hear. And it was Mark Twain who suggested, “Actions speak louder than words but not nearly as often”. Do you think this could also relate to coaching?

 The nets are full of action today. All full with young hopefuls wanting to be the next Ponting, Gilchrist, Sehwag, Clarke or Taylor – I liked Mark but Ross is the one in vogue at present, which you can understand given his bat speed.

And with them, coaches full of their own hopes and thoughts on their chargers. Each with their own coaching ideas and language. Bowling machines are fed, throws are given, balls being rolled, Inver drills being espoused to the budding players.

It’s cold outside so the best place to be is inside watching some under age squads train. I linger around in between all six of the nets observing and listening to what is unfolding between various players and coaches. Some private coaches, some Fathers and some Organisational Coaches. The instructions are flying….

Higher elbow

Foot to the ball

Bottom hand is too tight

Come on, concentrate mate, watch the ball

Open your stance more

 You keep closing off your front foot; you’re not going to be able to access deliveries on middle and leg (that coach has been reading the advanced manual).

The instructions are coming thick and fast. No doubt said with good intent and some usefulness but I feel somewhat suffocated.

It is however the 6th net that catches most of my attention, the only sound being made is bat on ball and lots of it. He’s hitting some well and some not so well and some missing all together. Yet his coach offers very few words. The kid hitting must be about 10 years of age.

I can’t help myself. “Excuse me, is that your son?”

“Yeah. Jack. He loves his cricket, loves Michael Clarke”

“I notice you don’t say much too him while he’s hitting?”

“No. I played a bit but just want him to be his own player. I can’t play for him. If he has a question I try to answer it but other than that he just enjoys hitting and playing with his friends. Can’t ask a lot more than that”
I leave their net feeling so happy for that young cricketer.
It’s such a rare conversation in our over industrialised sporting systems. The quiet coach, letting someone do their own thing and work it out for themselves. Sure coaching verbally has its place but letting someone learn kinaesthetically without the constant chatter is something, I think, we could do a bit more of.
I often wonder about the car ride home and how that’s used by parents, coaches and athletes. Do they lecture and instruct or do they allow for questions or quiet reflection. In amongst our wanting to instruct and coach perhaps the quiet coach has their place?
Would love to hear your thoughts on your most memorable coaches, good or not so much.

Thanks Sport.



  1. My favourite coach was my first: Mr Jurd, who taught me tennis in Innisfail from 1987 until I left in 1992. In that time he gave a small town a powerhouse junior tennis program with hundreds of kids playing fixtures every week, and a lot of those also playing the junior tournament circuit around NQ. He knew every kid by name and by nickname ("Big Jim, Man of Steel"!), and had just as much time for battlers like me as he did for the state-ranked kids. He eventually got squeezed out when it was decided that the program needed a higher-grade coach for the top kids. As far as I know, the program was never the same. Nonetheless, there are hundreds of kids who grew up in Innisfail who owe their tennis upbringing to Jurdy.

  2. Thanks for this excellent input. Will keep my mouth shut when my son is playing.