Insights from an elite coach


      Meet the new Cape Cobras coach –
      An evening with Richard Pybus.

WPCCA recently had the honour and privilege to host the new Cape Cobras head coach and highly regarded cricketing “brain” – Richard Pybus.

Richard shared with us insights into his plans for his new franchise and how he aims to guide the Cobras to challenge for honours on all fronts.

He also offered his personal views on what we should aim to achieve from the grass roots through to elite level coaching. Richard has kindly agreed to share these thoughts with you on this forum.

Coaching and getting the most out of a player or team starts long before the first ball of a season is bowled. Preparation and planning are key, including  simple logistics and requirements to make all areas of a team function to full capacity.

Clear goals and objectives should be set individually and as a unit to create positive, realistic expectations but always looking to extend boundaries and challenge the status quo. A criteria of excellence should be set for players to aspire and work towards. To make this work, a coach needs to know his players and what motivates and stimulates them to perform at their peak.

Creating the correct squad culture is imperative. Inclusive leaderships groups across age (experience) and cultural groups foster team spirit and gives all players identity to the team ethic. Acknowledging and using peoples’ strengths builds respect and is created through active listening, constructive dialogue and common goals.

Removing fear and uncertainty, particularly in times of change (such as the introduction of a new coach) is done by setting clearly defined objectives and benchmarks for team and individual standards. This allows players to understand their roles better.

Breaking down to specifics on these thoughts, Richard outlined the
 “Key laws of Training”:

• Specificity: Situational/constructive training routines, drills and environments to clearly define actions and make them subconscious and second nature through repetition and honing.
• Goal Orientated: Training with clear objectives and understanding of what needs to be achieved and why. These should be benchmarked to underline improvement and add a competitive edge to training.
The brain can “rewire” itself after 24 hours if stimulated and fed correctly. Areas of doubt or weakness can be made strengths if the mind gives the brain the correct signals and goals.
•    Situational: Make practice match relevant and under match-like conditions and pressure. This can be built by defining situations or targets for the players to perform to and compete. E.g batsmen being given a role/target to develop concentration and assertive responses within set situational criteria.
•   Performance-based outcomes:  This takes out any relationship issues when it comes to selection. Stats speak for themselves and it is down to the players to achieve required levels of performance within a structured environment created by the coach.
Exceptionally talented individuals are often right brain dominated making them creative (almost “artistic”) but often highly disorganized with volatile emotional space. The coach creates the parameters for such a player to work within to maximize his expression but controlling emotions and thought patterns, especially under pressure.

The underlying theme of the talk revolved around the insight:
“Champions go inside”.
“This is where the coach helps create structure for a player, planning the way forward. We draw out of them the goals and the steps to achieve this, where they get stuck we assist with questions and suggestions ... this allows them to go inside and develop their own resources, create their wiring in the brain that is their thinking, not the coaches. Making them more resourceful and creating better cricketers."

Richard has kindly offered to return at a later date and members are highly recommended to take advantage of such an event, as, if you want to improve as an individual and a coach, learning from the best is a rare opportunity.
In the meantime, you can get further insight into how an elite coach works and thinks by visiting Richard’s excellent website:

Article written by Laurie Ward, with input from Richard Pybus, on behalf of the Western Province Cricket Coaches Association. 

August 2010.


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