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Team Needs a Coach Who is Trained to Become One The coaches of other sporting teams will learn from this fiasco, and the respective sports bodies begin to train coaches to be coaches

By Sameer Dua

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The recent fiasco at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup shows us that we simply cannot use coaches who are not "coached to coach', especially for national teams that include senior players. We people are of the opinion that Ramesh Powar did the best he could. Presuming he had no bad intentions. It's just that he knew no better.

The question is – how come we have a coach who does not understand the fundamentals of coaching – being engaged as a coach for the International Women's' Cricket Team – especially during a World Cup tournament?

Coaching is a separate skill, distinct from the skill of just playing the game, in this case, the game of a cricket. Just because you are an expert, doesn't make you a great coach. Going by the letters and quotes exchanged in this case of Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar, we have an opportunity to learn some lessons from this (not so pleasant) episode that perhaps cost us the first ever ICC Women's T20 World Cup.

There are some key mistakes made by the coach. Mithali may not be at fault, but that is why we have a coach - to show the mirror to the player. Not become the victim himself!

Here are the three key mistakes made by the coach in this case.

  • Mistake 1: Not having the required conversations with the player

The core job of the coach is to have the necessary conversations with the coachee (player). The coach, through conversations:

  • reveals new and exciting possibilities to the coachee,

  • provides a greater appreciation for one's own potential,

  • discloses one's foolishness, (that which does not advance the cause of the team, is deemed to be foolish)

  • shares feedback respectfully, and yet that which lands as a whack on the head

  • ensures players walk away inspired, empowered, and most importantly, enabled, to act in the best interest of the team.

In this case, the conversations have been disempowering, to say the least. And for me, the coach hasn't done his job the way it is meant to be done. Of course some conversations will not work, however, the coach continues to look for that next conversation that will connect with the player and empower, energise and enable them to act (in the interest of the team).

  • Mistake 2: Not built adequate trust with the coachee (operate from a space nothingness)

The coach needs to always operate from a state of nothingness, and not bring his historic assessments and judgments about the coachee into a conversation. That kills the conversation.
What's worse, it also kills the trust the player has on the coach.

It is the coach's job to build trust in the eyes of the players so that the player can open up to the coach and share their insecurities and fears. The coach cannot fuel this, or be the source of this insecurity or fear.

  • Mistake 3: Rather than showing the player her blind spots, being blinded by one's own blind spots

Amongst other things, the key role of the coach is to be a "Mirror". The mirror has a role to play - to show people what they cannot see on their own. This is exactly the job of the coach. As a mirror, the coach shows the player what the player cannot see on his or her own. Once the player becomes aware of their blind spots, courtesy the coach, it opens up new actions, and hence new results for the player.

According to Tracy Goss, "Your role as a coach is to create an opening for action that allows people to get untangled from their structure of interpretation, and focus on the future to which they are committed."

In this case, rather than support the player, Mithali Raj, to "get untangled from her structure of interpretation", the coach's letter to the board is evidence that he was himself entangled in his own interpretations.

In the world of executive coaching, this would be unacceptable. It's surprising, we seem to tolerate this in Sports Coaching.

The coaches of other sporting teams will learn from this fiasco, and the respective sports bodies begin to train coaches to be coaches. There is just too much at stake.

Sameer Dua

Founder Director, The Institute for Generative Leadership, India

Sameer Dua is the founder director of The Institute for Generative Leadership, India. He is also the founder of Gift Your Organ Foundation.
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