© Image and text credit to Somerset Cricket Club

The Somerset Pathway, in collaboration with the Devon and Cornwall Pathways, have recently launched the South West Coaching Programme (SWCP).

The innovative project, which began on November 10th, is designed to provide a comprehensive development opportunity for Pathway cricket coaches across the South West, beyond the traditional boundaries of the ECB Level Three and Four programmes.

Andrew Griffiths, Pathway Coaching Lead, and the architect behind SWCP, shared the programme’s purpose during the inaugural session.

“Our aim is to blend theoretical knowledge with practical application,” he explained. “This will help to create a more deliberate and reflective mindset in coaches. We want them to continually challenge their own thinking and development.”

This approach marks a significant shift from conventional coaching methods, focusing on a more holistic development of coaching skills.

Matt Drakeley, Head of Talent Pathway at Somerset, emphasised the collaborative nature of the programme. “This was a decision aimed at up-skilling our pool of coaches, which in turn will benefit young cricketers across the South West,” he said. “We’re not just looking at the present, but also at the future of cricket in our region.”

The programme has already seen several sessions, including online workshops and in-person meetings at the Cooper Associates County Ground which have featured insights from specialists like Danny Newcombe from the Premier League.

The SWCP isn’t just about lectures and discussions. It’s a hands-on programme where coaches get to witness and engage in practical coaching sessions.

Alongside Danny Newcombe’s session on effective practice design, the first in-person workshop saw Andrew Griffiths deliver a live pace bowling session after presenting evidence-informed principles within the skill area. This was immediately followed by Shane Burger’s delivery of batting content.

These sessions are crucial in creating a common coaching language and aligning coaching practices across Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

One of the key goals of the SWCP, as Griffiths points out, is to address the gap in cricket coach development. “Nationally, there’s only so much the ECB can provide. It’s important that we take charge of our own development within our environment. This initiative is not just about improving our current coaching standards, but also about expanding the reach and aligning the programme across the South West.”

The programme has been met with enthusiasm and positive uptake from coaches across the counties. “It’s an exciting initiative to be involved in,” Griffiths added, highlighting the proactive engagement of coaches in the programme. “The premise is clear: more high-quality coaches will eventually lead to more high-quality cricketers emerging from the region.”

The sessions are designed to be interactive and practical, ensuring coaches can apply what they learn directly to their coaching practices. Griffiths’ role involves check-ins with the coaching cohort, while observing and supporting them as they implement new strategies and techniques.

As the SWCP progresses, it promises more sessions with experts from various fields, both in-person and online. In the remaining sessions of the South West Coaching Programme, coaches have lots to look forward to.

David Beasley, Pathway S&C Lead at Somerset, will deliver a crucial discussion on developing adolescent athletes, focusing on how growth and maturation impact young players. This will be complemented by Player Identification & Talent Pathway Lead at the ECB, David Court’s insights into the sociological aspects of talent development and helping coaches understand and manage their biases.

Another highlight will be the session on tactical awareness, offering a blend of coaching and player perspectives. Concluding the series, Adam Bracey, who has worked with England Under 19’s sides for several years, will introduce key psychological aspects relevant to coaching young cricketers, with a focus on developing a range of psychological characteristics including emotional control and performance under pressure.

These sessions promise to be interactive and transformative, equipping coaches with advanced skills and a deeper understanding of how to overcome coaching challenges.

“We’re really happy with how the programme has started, and it’s great to be involved in something that will develop a higher quantity and quality of coaches and young cricketers across the South West,” said Griffiths, reflecting the optimism and forward-thinking approach that the SWCP embodies.

He added: “With a focus on developing a new generation of skilled and reflective cricket coaches, the South West Coaching Programme is not just enhancing coaching standards but is also helping to shape the future of cricket in the region.”