In a brand new series coming to CrickTalk20, our newest contributor, Isaac Lockett will be speaking to people involved in the sport of cricket from around the globe. Isaac in the first edition of 10 All Out has had the fantastic opportunity to interview Tom Jones from Cricket Coach365.
- What has your journey in cricket entailed so far and what is your background
When I start to think about my journey through cricket, I think of very early childhood, around 5 or 6 and remembering with great fondness my dad handing me a bat and taking me into the back garden, a local park or the local school that he taught at and just falling in love with it. Fast forward to my high school days, where I played cricket for 6 or 7 years; scoring my first century when I was 17; going through to university where I played first-team cricket and then going into club cricket. For the last 20 years, I have played first-team club cricket across the UK; mostly in the North East of England so areas like county Durham and Northumberland. Through the sport, I’ve made so many friends in the game. Maybe in the last 10 years, as I’ve got older I’ve started to get more involved with coaching and giving something back to the next generation of cricketers as they start their own individual journeys.
- Who has been your cricketing idol?
When I was younger it was probably a mixture of David Gower, the left-handed English batsmen and captain, and Ian Terrance Botham. Both were in their prime in the early to mid-eighties and both played a pivotal part in their own respective ways in establishing England at the world stage. This was at a time where the West Indies were completely dominant and Australia were far better than England
- What or who was your inspiration behind setting up a coaching company?
This has really been a combination of factors. When I was around 19 I had my first taste of coaching sports in high school in the United States actually, when I was on a soccer scholarship in Florida. During my time over there, I became varsity coach for the local catholic high school coaching soccer but then I also started to do some independent coaching camps for kids in the local area. I absolutely loved the whole experience so I think that was the start of it in regards to my coaching love. Then, in more recent years, my focus has been more cricket focussed and I wanted to do something that not only gave back but created a bit of something different. I wanted to create something that focussed on each individual child and gave everybody the opportunity to really build their own confidence, their self-awareness, their resilience and ultimately give every child the opportunity to enjoy the game to the best of their ability.
- What is your coaching philosophy?
I have begun to discuss this during the answer to question 3. Previously, I have used to strapline ‘progress through play’. But more recently I think it has become the individualisation of the coaching approach to each player and allowing that player to play to their strengths, build their confidence and enjoy the game to the fullest.
- Has the online revolution changed your approach to coaching?
What lockdown in the UK presented me with is a series of challenges and opportunities. What I’ve looked to do is to overcome those challenges, seize the opportunities and adapt. So one of the things that I have done, literally within the last week or so, is offering a virtual coaching service. In simple terms, this means a father, mother, aunty, uncle records their young cricketer doing a bit of practice in the backyard, a local park or their cricket club or school environment but they do not have to come and meet me. This allows me to coach somebody who is in the USA for example or Australia or India. All an individual would have to do is have access to a video recorder, record the session then send me the video. I would then provide some observations or coaching comments through voice record, then we would organise a coaching conversation. The output of this conversation would be to agree to a coaching programme tailored specifically to that individual. So yes, in that sense the online revolution has changed my approach. The second thing I would say is that during the lockdown, I have developed and established a campaign which is called “Stay at Home Cricket” for those children whose families do not feel very confident about going back out into the club world or their team environment through anxieties regarding COVID-19. The campaign encourages these people to stay at home and go onto our youtube channel, Cricket Coach 365, and look at the 28 activities that I have recorded throughout the lockdown period. The programme allows kids to dip in and out or follow the whole lot but most importantly have some fun, be improvisational, be creative, get the family members involved, get their friends involved to make sure that they stay connected to the game.
- On your website, there is a reference to player mentoring. How important do you believe a strong working rapport is with an individual player?
I think that player mentoring is very significant. As a coach, when a player gets to a stage where they begin to play matches either in clubs, schools or elite player pathway systems I think part of the role as a coach is to be a mentor. A coach should give that advice or be that metaphorical arm around a shoulder and to support that individual player and to encourage them to feel as confident and as comfortable about their game as possible. So I am a massive advocate of strength-based coaching and also encouraging player-led development.
- There is mention that you offer psychological help to players who work with you, how important do you believe psychology is within the sport and could you provide an example of how you may work with a player in this way?
The importance of psychology within any sport I think is important and can often be overlooked. But, ultimately the phrase ‘talent is not enough’ is something I am a huge believer in. So you can be naturally very gifted athletically, regardless of what sport it is whether it is football or cricket or otherwise, but the difference between that talented individual progressing from good to great is ordinarily to do with the individual’s psychology, mindset, their mental approach, their the attitude to dealing with things that aren’t necessarily going to go their way. These individuals find a solution or an opportunity to make the best of adversity in terms of learning about themselves, learning about their game and progressing and developing. So for me, it is a huge aspect of cricket and sport in general and it is something that I wouldn’t say I major on but I am becoming increasingly very well versed in and experienced in this area and incorporate it into my programmes and my coaching work.
- The coaching cards you offer are to be a unique aspect of your coaching techniques. Would you be able to further explain what these cards are, how they integrate into a coaching setting and the benefits?
The coaching cards are an idea that I came up with stemming from my other career as a business and leadership coach and consultant. I have seen this type of idea work really well with adults and senior people in business, especially with people who recognize that they need some help regarding their development or the development of their career aspirations. These people who have identified the need for help acquire the help from a coach and some of the best coaches use coaching cards to help them ask better questions and develop a better coaching conversation. I thought that this would be a good transferable tool to use in my role as a cricket coach and as a result of that, I have designed a set of cards that covered the ‘four pillars of coaching philosophy’ that underpin the ECB’s coaching philosophy. These four pillars are ‘technical’, ‘tactical’, ‘physical’ and ‘psychological’. I adapted ‘physical’ because I believe that ‘personal’ allows for individualized coaching to be achieved and allows the athlete to understand their self-awareness better. The main aim of these cards is to allow coaches to ask better questions which aims at building better levels of engagement with their players both individually and in teams. Further to this, it allows the players to generate self-awareness and allows them to challenge themselves and others around them to peer review, allowing for confidence to develop in their articulation skills, their strengths and weakness identification and the skills they wish to develop. The cards allow for a flexible approach to be taken whilst maintaining simplicity. I believe that the cards would have an increased benefit on the performance of both coaches and children. The cards are designed for children aged 10 – 16 years old but can be used in a variety of different settings. The feedback I have attained so far would support the use of the cards and the claims that I have made. I believe that the cards will help enhance the coach and the player’s performance.
- What is your idea of success for the company?
For me, success is making a positive contribution and having a positive influence over young players, their enjoyment of the game and their development in the game. Alongside that, I would like to be able to present myself as somebody who knows enough about the game at different levels and different standards to be able to offer value to people within clubs who are looking to run junior sections or run cricket clubs or potentially people outside the direct cricket sector so parents and teachers. I would say that my main customer audience would include all of the aforementioned groups but most importantly at the heart of my work is delivering the tailored individualised coaching service to a young player to allow them to enjoy the game to the fullest.
- Is there anything else you would like to share?
What sets cricket apart for me compared to other sports these days is the combination of it being a team sport but where individuals can thrive as well. Cricket has so many loveable quirks and intricacies but it teaches you so many things about yourself and about life in general, such as communication, patience, bravery and allows you to make friends for life. I also think cricket can teach you respect and that is one of the things that I think that separates it from a lot of other sports that perhaps dominate media coverage, both in England and other countries for example soccer in the UK and the NFL or NBA in America. I think cricket above and beyond what other sports teach us about respect for each other, opposition, your teammates, officials, parents and ultimately respect for the game of cricket itself.
I would also like to make people aware that in recent weeks I have been promoting that I have been holding ‘Chats with Cricket Coach 365’. I have invited people I know from within the game; so I have had professional players, respected coaches, members from the governing bodies and a couple of people from the international coaching community. All of these are being recorded on zoom calls and they will be made available on the cricket coach 365 websites during the near future. The plan is to launch access to these chats through a subscription model and I am aiming to charge around £5-10 per month to subscribe. Currently, these calls are being recorded weekly and at the time of the interview, I have done 5 so far. The latest one is with a gentleman called Shakil Manir and for the following one, I am aiming to get Graham Winter from mindful cricket on and then Trent Woodhill who is a highly respected international coach the week after that. I think there will be the opportunity to get lots of value from those calls and if people want to register or to express an interest in getting the link to the zoom call feel free to contact me.
CrickTalk20 would like to thank Tom for his valuable time and for sharing his insights from the world of cricket.
If you would like to follow Tom’s journey through coaching or are interested in any of his services here are the important link: