“The hardest thing as a coach is to watch and say nothing,” says Gareth Townsend. Surrey County Cricket Club’s Academy Director oversees one of the finest youth development pathways in English sport and has got used to his alumni filling the ranks of the England men’s national team. That said, he has learnt how to speak and when to speak with the youngsters that fill the academy from the age of nine through to 17.
By John Portch
Townsend continues: “There’s a huge amount of resource put into the support network for these players; that’s great, it works, and it’s needed and functions at the highest level with the top sides in the sport, but you don’t want to take away the independence of players making decisions on their own.”
It’s a fine line but Surrey have learn to toe it adroitly. Over the course of a morning at Leaders HQ we discuss how Townsend and his colleagues work to balance the art and science of coaching with the vision and purpose established at a club founded in 1845. Other topics committed to podcast during our chat included:
- Early specialisation and the reasons Surrey discourage this practice;
- The club’s three-phase feedback process;
- Why the best players are the best learners in a multidisciplinary era;
- How Townsend and his colleagues’ relationships change as academy players mature;
- The club’s move away from group psychology sessions to individual.