Coaching cricket in Spain: an insight from Bobby Denning
SINCE my appointment as Head Coach of the Spanish National Team , it has been an exciting time for me in becoming familiar with European Cricket and the structures in place in the domestic game within the country, junior development, coach development and the national team.
My role at Lancashire CC is Cricket Development Manager for Lancashire Cricket Board. I also work with the County Under 11 - Under 14 squads and an extension to this is worrking with 2 junior county players as part of our Emerging players programme. I am also a coach educator. Away from Lancashire Cricket Board, I am the lead disabilities coach for the ECB working as Head Coach of the England Moderate Learning Disabilities Squad and the Deaf Squad as and when required. I do feel that my experiences at different levels and within different roles of the game has "shaped" me as a coach and I hope I can draw on those experiences within my role with Spain.
My appointment with Spain came about through undertaking the ECB Level 4 course which I have now completed. On the same coort was Phillip Hudson (ICC Regional Performance Officer). Phillip, through his ICC role advised Spanish cricket to appoint me as head coach. My aim since commencing this role has been to apply the knowledge gained from the 2 year course to the squad.
Since my appointment I have had two sessions with the squad and I feel both have been successful based on the right environment being created which has had a positive impact on the players. My personal coaching philosophy is Success = Environment + Communication + Discipline + Enjoyment x 2. The x 2 refers to both the coach and the player/team. Unless BOTH parties buy into the philosophy, success will not be achieved.
Peter Moores in his article "On the Up" Edition Number 1 states that "creating the right environment for our cricketers is crucial if we are going to accelerate their learning". He goes on to say its about "discipline and work" and that " work rate and persistance are necessary, because to gain the necessary levels, often requires much soul searching".
In the same article he states that " without discipline it is difficult to get enough done in the time allowed". Based on my limited contact time with the players I have spent time planning the training camps to ensure that the training has a context and is therefore relevant whilst challenging. Without the discipline however, my limited contact time with the players would be a wasted opportunity.
My first visit to the country in July 2008 was my first opportunity to get a feel for where things were at. Prior to arriving, I had communicated a number of times with Phil Beal-Chairman and Player and Phil Hudson (ICC) but it was onbly really on arrical when I could start to ask all those questions (and a few more!!) to start to get an understanding of the game in Spain. The answers I received were encouraginf and it was clear that those responsible for driving the game forward had the same philosophy as me - " stand still and you go backwards!!·
My first objective was to meet the players prior to my first session with them. The following 2 days we were playing Gibraltar so itwas importatant that I created the right environment from the moment I met the players. The well known saying "you only get one change to make a first impression" was at the forefront of my mind from the moment I arrived. We trained well on the first day which set us up for defeating Gibraltar 2-0. Within an hour of watching the team lift the Iberia Cup, I was sat on the plane, typing my couch´s report on the weekend with some thoughts on things I needed to put in place to move the squad and management forward.
The main points of my report were as follows:
1. Team goals, individual´s roles, codes of conduct, managers/coaches and physio´s roles and responsiblities to be established.
2. Regular communication needed between Head Coach, Team Manager, Captain and Physio Implement training programmes to meet individual´s needs and the team´s needs both tactically and technically.
3. Use of Silicon Coach software.
4. Upgrade scoring system - laptop.
All of the above (with the exception of laptop scoring software) has since been implemented, some during my second training camp with the players at the start of Novemeber. This 2 day training camp covered match specific situations on Day 1 along with some intense fielding drills in which the players were " marked". The " fielding league table" provided some healthy debate and competition for the same tests on Day 2.
A session on psychology and attention focus started the day off on Day 2 which provided useful discussion between the players. Following this up with a "dismissal net" provided an intensity where players could work on basic principles of psychology.
Each player has since received Silicone footage of themselves and clubs have been asked to support their players who have a responsiblilty to work on key areas of their game between National Training Camps.
I hope during my limited contact time with the players and those responsible for running cricket in Spain that I have made a difference. The challenge for both players and management is to keep "raising the bar". We can control this. Providing we reaim focussed in doing so, the outcomes will after themselves. As I have stated earlier in this article - "stand still and you go backwards!"