When speaking to Gift Mathe on receiving this assignment, I requested that this piece relate primarily to the concept of planning.
I believe this to be important as everyone who reads the GCB newsletter has different strengths, challenges, skill groups, age groups etc., and therefore no definitive planning document can fit all requirements.
However, the concept of ‘planning-to-assist-process’ applies universally.
I have turned to John C. Maxwell, an expert in the field of planning, to give an overview of relevant key areas. Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written a number of books, primarily focusing on leadership. Titles include ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ and ‘The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader’.
I have extracted sections of an article by Maxwell called ‘The Seven Principles of Planning’ – I have then added context. I strongly suggest you search for the full document and attach it to your coaching folder.
I have broken down this article in to three sections;
- Why – we plan
- How – we plan
- What – are the key components of planning and periodisation
1. Why We Plan
Maxwell starts by saying, “We all have desires and dreams, yet we'll never accomplish our dreams in life just by wanting them bad enough. Planning bridges the gap between our desires and dreams by calling us to action. As noted by William Danforth, "No plan is worth the paper it is printed on unless it starts you doing something." A concrete plan supplies us with tangible steps to take in the direction of our dreams.”
This is crucial; plans must inspire action. In addition, the required goals along the way need to have time frames attached. Any stated goal that does not have an attached time frame is merely a good intention.
There is a phrase often used, that goes ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ I agree with this, but also understand that any plan must have innate flexibility - as things do not always go ‘as planned.’ The key here is that when something unexpected happens, a well thought out plan allows you to take a requisite detour as opposed to being thrown completely off course.
Maxwell continues, “The good news about planning is that it's a relatively simple discipline. Anyone can do it. No PHD is required to make a solid plan - only a window of uninterrupted time for focused thought.”
2. How We Plan
Maxwell goes on to outline 7 key principles of planning, I have listed 4 of these below and added some context that may apply to readers of this article.
a. The Principle of Creativity –
“We settle for what's easy to wrap our minds around, and we neglect to wrestle with harder, more difficult aspects.”
We are surrounded by experts, but sometimes there is a reluctance to ask for help – it is as though this reflects negatively on ourselves. Getting to be comfortable outside of your current knowledge base - in order to grow that base - is a key part of personal growth.
b. The Principle of Influence –
“When you prepare your plans, ask yourself the question, "Am I able to influence the resources needed to fulfil my planning and mission? To accomplish your plan, you'll need influence over people, finances, and your schedule.”
If your plan is designed to keep people happy and marvel over how magnificent your ideas are, it can fall flat when down the line you find yourself saying things like – ‘the budget has been cut,’ ‘this person let me down’ or ‘those idiots double booked that facility.’ Meaning, the reason you cannot execute your plan is someone else’s fault.
Make sure that what you do put forward you have control over, e.g. the nets are definitely available for your use, you have ensured that on the given days the middle is free, confirmed and prepared, the budget you require is, 1. Submitted, 2. Agreed, and 3. Signed off.
Stay in control of your plan if you want to own it.
c. The Principle of Flexibility –
“In leadership, be mentally prepared that not everything will go according to your plans. Then, when plans unfold unexpectedly, you'll be prepared to see new opportunities. Some of the best things I've received in life have been surprises that I could never have planned in advance.”
“When plans go awry, don't just stand there. By staying in motion, you create movement. Be resourceful enough to improvise when circumstances push you off course.”
This is completely self-explanatory.
d. The Principle of Teamwork –
“A worthwhile plan ought to be bigger than your abilities.”
By accessing experts in various fields, technical, tactical, physical and mental, not only do our plans become better, (and therefore more enriching for our players), but we grow knowledge individually and become better at what we do. This gives each of us the opportunity to advance our own lives.
3. What are the key components of planning and periodisation
- There are multiple resource materials available that provide information as to how to plan a cricket season; please research these and adapt to your requirements accordingly. One suggestion would be that you access a computer and get a basic grasp of excel so as you can map out your season, tournament or session plans on a spreadsheet. This allows a broad overview of activity and often your own knowledge will tell you if the plan as a whole is relevant and realistic.
The key component to starting a plan is to work backwards. Input what you know to be required, e.g. the season starts on 1 Sept, or trials start on 15th Oct, or the main competition is on 3rd Nov.
Then input known events – public/ school holidays, religious holidays or other sporting events that may impact on your players, etc.
Your plan will differ along with your own circumstances. If you have a squad for a whole year or just a few weeks (maybe prior to a National Week) your time available will differ.
You need to work out where you need to be and by when, what will impact your time and resources and then fill the gaps in-between.
- is a concept applicable to all sports, but it applies in different ways dependant on the sport. Wikipedia describes periodisation as ‘the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year.’
There are given cycles within periodisation that I am sure you are aware of, in essence these are;
- Competition, and
, this often gets sub-divided in to 3 subsections (I have added a fourth);
- Regain previous training levels – general fitness, etc.
- Develop the factors needed for performance – skill specific fitness, fielding for fitness etc.
- Pre-competition – increased tactical training and ensuring that the required skills are able to withstand competition pressure
- I will also add Education in here. How do you plan your players’ time to give them adequate opportunity to ensure their grades do not fall– and, indeed, can you assist or incentivize them to improve.
This phase may contain a few main competitions each containing a pre-competitive and a main competition. Within the main competition, an uploading phase and a special preparatory phase may be included.
One key area here is understanding how you are going to maintain the athlete at the required levels given the workloads presented.
This is based on the off-season. Rest, relaxation and cross training might be ideal, but in a young players life these days there is usually an array of other activities in which they are required to participate; rugby, hockey, etc.
Try to gain a good understanding of your players’ ‘off-season’ schedules so as you can appreciate what each individual requires when they come back to you for their next preparatory phase.
- Planning and periodization is a critical part of performance and will require time and effort to get right. The good news is, the more you do it – the better you will get at it
- Whilst plans rarely go exactly as set out, it is well worth investing in creating a relevant and realistic plan to work from. It will guide you through any distractions and make you a more successful coach – this has been proven over and over again.
I hope this will help with why and how planning can assist your coaching life – all the best in your work.