With the transformation of leadership within the Australian Men’s side, I thought it would be worth investigating deeper into why some forms of coaching work for some teams, and not others. 

Sporting teams are a forever-changing environment, both on and off the field. There are various styles that support different strengths, depending on where a team is at. 

What are the most common styles of coaching? 

Coaching Style  Description
Authoritarian  Clear direction by the coach, one size fits all, rigid structure, sets the bar very high
Democratic  An all-inclusive mindset, gives athletes discretion on direction, high value on fairness & sportsmanship
Holistic  Human first - athlete second, empowering athletes through education, learning & confidence based practice in all areas of life & sport

Different teams and individuals have varying needs. When Bobby Simpson took over as the first professional coach of Australia, there was initial hesitation to change the ways that had worked up until that point. However, his effect was evident, with his Authoritarian approach received well by a young developing side requiring clear structure and direction. 

This was JL’s exact role after the Cape Town ball-tampering saga. His mission was to restore pride in the Baggy Green as well as reinforce specific standards and measures to ensure his squad was pushing towards #1 again. This was executed to perfection, with Australia winning the Ashes & T20 world cup in the years following. However, the playing group hit a transitional phase, with more experienced heads having different needs from their support network. Thus, a push for a more Democratic approach to his coaching was met after initial player unrest and feedback. 

The situation certainly could have been handled better by the board, however, the need for a new coaching style had been found through Andrew McDonald. ‘Ronnie’ is a great example of a Holistic approach. The culture is cultivated by the playing group and coaches support that environment and structure. 

There’s no right and wrong way - coaching is not something so simple as black and white! When working directly with people, you’re managing results, feedback, emotions, effort, individuals, and groups and constantly changing goalposts on what success looks like. Especially at the highest level with enormous amounts of pressure added to the situation. 

The truth is, the coaches that are having the biggest impact in sports are the ones that are able to truly connect and share the experience with the players. With sport growing into new realms of professionalism, money & elitism - athletes are forever wanting to engage with a support network they can trust, and who have their best interests in mind.

Century Cricket Coaching's founding principle is a holistic method when undertaking progress. Meaning - coaches analyse ALL aspects of a human’s development, rather than just their technical skills or results & outcomes. The key is to assess the habits of athletes, which helps determine where their workload is currently, and where their efforts can be better spent. 

Common questions we get asked around coaching styles… 

How do I engage holistically with an athlete? What areas do I need to be sure of to be successful? How can I be certain if I’m providing value to someone's progress? 

Our advice... 

  • Find your own way - Ask questions of an athlete to help them figure out what needs addressing for their development. 
  • Growth mindset - Always look to improve by 1% in your daily habits, mindset & decision-making.
  • Relationships - Putting a high value on genuinely getting to know who it is you’re working with.
  • Respect, care and understanding of both parties need to be looked at initially. 
  • Enjoyment - Don’t forget, you can be serious & fun at the same time! Mix it up and be adaptable when you feel things need a shake-up. While consistency is so important - you don’t want to do the exact same thing each session. 

Hopefully, that gives you some background on how you can adapt your coaching style to learn and grow! Remember that balance is always important and just because one thing works - that doesn’t mean it’s the only ingredient for success.

Seb Contos

VIC State Manager