Former Proteas coach Gary Kirsten has appealed to school coaches to ensure that they set out on a coaching career for the right reasons.
Kirsten was speaking at the Powerade Performance Academy at NMMU, and he said that it was important for coaches not to focus on solely winning games, but that they should seek to develop players as people who believe in the team’s culture and purpose.
Kirsten appealed to coaches who were present on the day to coach their players in a similar way that they would like to be coached.
‘If you learn something new from another coach or from your players, you should try to blend this new knowledge or approach in with your own way of coaching to see if it could add value to your players and the team,’ added Kirsten.
‘It is also important for coaches to focus on doing justice to the team by identifying each player’s individual strengths and weaknesses, along with specific areas of improvement they should focus on improving. If coaches do not adopt a proactive approach, it can lead to their team losing games that they could have potentially won.
‘There is a huge pressure on school coaches for teams to perform and win. Nevertheless, coaches must first grow the individual and only when the individual has shown tremendous growth, then should coaches begin to look at winning. It’s important to remember that winning is the result of all the hard work, determination and patience that coaches have for their players and that is a recipe for a successful team,’ added Kirsten.
Sharing his thoughts on leadership, Kirsten believes that the coach is responsible for the team’s shared sense of purpose and culture.
‘There are negotiables in a team and there are non-negotiables, as a coach needs to establish what is not negotiable and get the team to believe the vision and goal.
‘A team needs a common goal that everyone understands and that is aligned towards the team’s core objectives, and this is because a team will not work well if everyone has different goals. It is important to note that the team’s goals always come before personal goals and this should be one of the non-negotiables that a coach must instil in their team,’ he added.
Brilliant initiative by Gary Kirsten to the game that he loves. #Repost @garykirstencricketacademy ・・・ Please take a moment to see the great work the #garykirstenfoundation is doing in Khayelitsha #Repost @garykirstenfoundation The Gary Kirsten Foundation continues to provide sustainable sporting alternatives for township schools and communities. #cricket #sportforgood #Khayelitsha #township #capetown #southafrica #sportforall
The former Proteas opener also expressed a strong opinion that it was important to equip players to think for themselves on the field, and when it comes to preparing a team to adapt to a complex and unpredictable environment, instead of simply following a rigid game plan.
‘You cannot foresee everything, so teaching players the basics and preparing them to adapt to complex situations in a match is very important. At practice, you can go through the basics of the game, but coaches cannot predict everything that will happen in a match and, therefore, it’s important to prepare the players to judge situations for themselves and to be able to make their own decisions,’ said Kirsten.
Kirsten highlighted the fact that coaches are often criticised, and it’s not always easy to take such criticism, especially when they have worked hard to get the team to perform well. A coach needs to be able to take constructive criticism from the correct channels.
‘Don’t let your ego determine what’s best for the team, as this can destroy the efforts already made to ensure the team reaches its full potential,’ said Kirsten, adding that in order to be a successful leader or a coach, one needs to understand that he or she has direct input in the players’ lives, which can help them to set up common goals that are aligned to the core team values.
‘If I were to list the most important values, they would include that players should never cheat to get a result and that they should always play the game in the right way and in the right spirit,’ said Kirsten. In his closing remarks, Kirsten added that ‘players need to trust their coaches and they should understand that trust is built through integrity, approachability, humility and empathy’.
The 2018 Powerade Performance Academy celebrates everyday coaches and will focus on giving credit to everyday ‘ordinary’ coaches who have done extraordinary things by refining the young talent that eventually goes on to perform on the world stage.