The importance of coaches at the grassroot level

Participants of the CWI Coaching Level 1 Course at Inshan Ali Park, Preysal. Source: Rachael Ann Dookhoo

There is no doubt that Cricket in the West Indies is the only sport that is represented under a chain of these lovely Caribbean islands. The rich Cricketing history that has seen the West Indies men’s team dominant in the late 1970’s to 1990’s. Unfortunately that proud winning record has dwindled significantly over the last two decades or so. One has to ponder why so? Although there maybe many contributing factors to the decline of West Indies Cricket, let’s focus on what can be achieved propelling forward.

     In the Caribbean, individuals such as myself would have grown up being coached under the “Old School” style, meaning explicit coaching. The explicit coaching style is defined as a more traditional method in which instruction is given to the participant on how to perform the skill, underlining main coaching points. This style usually leads to the participant being able to later verbalize what they did but not incontrovertibly being able to implement the expertise to a higher level. This can therefore result in the slightest amount of liberty being provided. The explicit style is thus a more “spoon-feeding” approach. It doesn’t allow for the future player to think on their own. 

    It is important to note that three young ladies participated in the workshop, as the Cricketing World continues to bask in the successful growth of the women’s game.

     Implicit coaching on the other hand is the opposite. It allows participants to learn on their own within the natural environment. The coach may provide discussions but it’s more about the individual learning different techniques independently, but more importantly effectively. The implicit coaching style has been used by the Australians in their various sports over the last few decades. No wonder the Australian’s men and women’s Cricket teams have been so successful at the International level. Cricket West Indies (CWI) have adopted this implicit style of coaching within the last few years. On November 24th to 26th 2023, CWI coaches Brendon Ramlal and Ryerson Bhagoo conducted a coaching level one course at the Inshan Ali Park at Preysal, Trinidad. 

     At this level one coaching clinic, participants learnt the art of the implicit style. Cricket has various skills that includes batting, bowling, fielding, catching and wicket-keeping. Having participated myself in the clinic, I found it to be quite intriguing. Day one of the clinic was based on the theoretical aspect where all the participants were heavily involved in group discussions, thanks to the astute coaches conducting. Each individual had his/her opinion on West Indies Cricket and laid out specific plans on the way forward. It is important to note that three young ladies participated in the workshop, as the Cricketing World continues to bask in the successful growth of the women’s game. The first day taught everyone that this glorious game must be coached in order for young children to have fun. 

     The coaching level one workshop also taught many of us that for young children playing the game, winning is not everything and not every child would move onto higher levels. Day two of the clinic involved a full day in the sun, where all the participants learnt all of the facets of the game. Individuals who may have not have been perfect in the beginning surely improved as time went by. For example, the basics of catching a ball can be done via a beach ball for a young child. When the child gets comfortable, a smaller ball can be used for catching. Another example that came to mind is the art of ground fielding. Constraints such as the utilization of colored cones, stumps, bats, ball and boundary rope can all come into play and permit a competition level where for each ball fielding cleanly can result in five (5) points for the child. This not only aids the child with the sport but can also go a long way with teaching the subject of Mathematics. This tactic helps the child integrates sports with studies. A fantastic approach at the grass root level.

     Day three was based on each participant being put into groups of five to do the practical assessment. It permitted each person to coach the other four members of the group and assigned a particular skill. Imparting spin, wicket-keeping up to a spinner, scoring a quick single and ground fielding from the outfield were some of the assessments conducted by individuals. At the end of day three, each participant left Preysal more knowledgeable and surely the information gained from this workshop will be imparted onto young children. The basics of Cricket and this implicit style of coaching will undoubtedly enhance the future generation of West Indies Cricket, whether it be in the white-ball format (T20 and ODIs) or red-ball (Test Cricket). With the West Indies senior men’s team failing to qualify in the last year for the T20 and 50 over World Cups, this level one coaching course is a bit of fresh air for new coaches to implement this style of coaching. Happy times ahead in West Indies Cricket and I look forward to the next 5 years to see the results in the positive direction. 



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