Coaching in Israel
Posted in ECB Coaches Association
When I arrived in Israel in the capacity of National Cricket Development Officer, I was intrigued by the fast pace of life here. Introducing cricket, a game that needs lots of patience and discipline, was, I thought going to be a hard sell to the average Israeli.
There are two sports that are prominent amongst children in Israel - basketball, where there is no shortage of courts, and football.
The Israel youth development program started in 2000 and there have been thousands of children who have been introduced to cricket throughout the years. My role is to increase the number of playing areas and develop players who can go on and play club and international cricket.
The facilities that we use in Israel range from high quality cricket nets, good synthetic pitches, basketball courts and dusty, sandy playing fields. We also utilise any area in parks that are viable for a good coaching session.
Introducing cricket to players that do not know who a Warne, Lara or even a Tendulkar are, is a tricky business. Unfortunately there is no cricket shown on television in Israel, so in order to watch a game, we have to stream it through the internet or watch DVDs.
Israeli youngsters have an abundance of energy and raw talent so it is important that every child is involved in the session to the fullest and you leave the technical side of coaching for when they are truly hooked on the game.
While we plan each session we take with the youngsters, we have to be adaptable as temperatures of up to 42 degrees are common, the group size could swell to over 30 children and occasionally we share the playing area with basketball players and footballers.
It is important that we involve the children as much as possible, so a typical lesson for new players is a brief introduction of the game, some visual aid in terms of pictures and then setting up a playing area for the children to play.
Every child loves to hit the ball far, add in running between the wickets, communication and bowling and all of a sudden you have a frantic game of cricket. My role in this situation is simply to set up a playing area and observe.
It takes a few months before we start with more technical issues and once that takes place, it is important that we, as coaches, realise that most of the players have developed an unorthodox bowling action or batting style.
This is where we have to tread carefully and ensure that while we are coaching out of a textbook, we must not allow ourselves to over complicate things and allow each player to keep some form of his unorthodox manner.
At the end of the day, most of us learned our cricket in the backyard, in the driveway playing with friends and in fun matches in parks. Using this as an ideology, it makes sense that we replicate that and create the environment for the new players to do the same.