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What outcomes are we planning for?

When the focus is on the result rather than the process, the player's mind shifts from the present moment to the future. Watch Paddy Upton explain.
PADDY UPTON: Hello, and welcome to the second week of the course. I trust you found the perspectives and information I’ve provided so far useful to your development as a coach. This week, we turn our focus to the planning phase of the learning cycle. I’ll contrast a player-centered approach to planning with a coach-centered approach and provide some practical strategies for helping players engage in planning. A coach-centered approach generally places winning as the main goal and the coach then applies his or her best thinking and expertise in pursuit of that goal. The coach devises strategy and tactics for the next game, selects their team, and plans the week’s training accordingly.
Immediately before the game, normally in the change room, the coach will give the final motivational team talk reminding players of the plans and what’s important. They might even update and repeat some of this during play. In this coach-centered approach, the player’s job is to memorise plans and follow the instructions. Two things happen when the focus is on winning. One, it directs players’ minds towards the future, and two, it creates pressure. The amount of pressure is determined by how important winning is perceived to be. The more the coach talks about the importance of winning the more he or she dials up the pressure players feel, and only a few players really thrive under pressure.
Alongside fear, pressure is one of the key obstacles to success. Focusing on the future, on winning does little to inform players what to do. We’ve all heard that the mind needs to be in the present when play is underway. When a player’s mind is on winning during a game, their body’s on the present and their mind is in the future trying to deal with what’s happening there. This causes common mental errors such as premeditation, being over aggressive, over attacking, going outside of the game plan, and making mistakes from trying to be the hero. So, while winning is important, placing too much importance on it or focusing on it at the wrong time is an obstacle to actually winning.
When starting with a new team at the beginning of the season, I ask players to put their hands up if they want to win. All of them always say they want to win. Then I tell, them this is the last time I’ll speak about winning because we all know that’s what we all want. From this moment, we’ll spend our time together working on generating plans for how to succeed, which generally includes things like preparing well, playing intelligent cricket, learning lots, having an amazing experience, growing as people, and, hopefully, winning games as a result of being diligent in all these processes.

When the focus is on the result rather than the process, the player’s mind shifts from the present moment to the future. This creates unnecessary pressure that can impact on their ability to perform.

A focus on the result usually results in more pressure on players. It forces them to think into the future, rather than focusing on the moment – and it’s generally only the next few moments/actions they can do something about.

Allowing players to focus on the moment, to make decisions for actions ‘right now’ while they’re in the midst of the game, means they need to be aware of team goals, and of what success looks like – for them individually as well as for the team.

This is one argument for involving players in the planning phase of the learning cycle.

Your task

Think of a time when you focused on the result rather than the process with your team and, in the comments, describe the impact that had on the team. What player-centered coaching strategies can/do you use to ensure the focus is on the process rather than the outcome?

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Player-centred Coaching

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