Art of Coaching: Comparison and Contrasts Part II

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IMarch 4, 2009

Coaching. One of the toughest yet sought after jobs in all sporting events. Every sports' coach has his own individuality and vibes imprinted. He is the task master, a teacher to a player, to a team whose balance has to tip [preferably in the positive direction].

So how do coaches from different strata of sports differ from each other? How does a cricket coach differ from a tennis coach?

That’s what the article is all about. A drawn out comparison and differences between two of the most prolific games: tennis and cricket. There is also a second part to this article, written by Long John Silver.

Firstly to begin with, there are four main areas where the role of coaches differs like chalk is to cheese between these two games.

The main and the obvious fact is the fact about the composition of players. In tennis, there is a single person [man or woman] who is responsible for [his/her] actions unlike cricket where if one person fails to perform, his team mates can be counted upon to chip in.

So in essence, a tennis coach becomes 11 times more responsible towards his protégé’s deliverance and meticulous in his preparation. As opposed to this, a cricket coach's job requires him to be equally attentive towards each of his 11 man team working out on each of their strengths and weaknesses.

The second point of variance is in the nature of the format of scheduled events. Say in tennis: if we consider Wimbledon and in cricket, the World Cup.

Wimbledon matches are cut-to-cut knock outs which means that any player gets not more than one single chance to prove his point. Take Rafa for example: if Rafa by any chance loses a match, then he won't get any leeway back into the main draw.

Whereas, in comparison in a WC, every team has to go through a Round Robin format where more than one opportunity is available. In such a scenario, the role of Toni Nadal becomes highly strung as if he is walking on ropes without a safety net.

And when accepting that Robin Rounds give opportunity, it's also important to accept that if a coach like Gary Kirsten fails to capitalise then his team will have to wait for a leap year cycle to settle things while Toni Nadal can regroup with Rafa within 12 months to make a lethal backlash.

The third factor is about the playing surfaces. Lets again consider the slams and the World Cup. In case of the Slams, everyone knows about the playing surface: Aus Open= Plexi Cushion; French Open= Red Clay and so on and so forth.

In contrast to this, the pitches' surface is hard to determine until a few hours before the match. Also, important is the fact that the cricket pitches can be altered not only by the wants of the players but also by rain.

Therefore a cricketing coach has to remain on tenterhooks perpetually while a tennis coach can throw caution to the winds at least in regard to the playing area.

And lastly, the fourth and the final distinguishing line. The weather conditions which also contribute a lot; especially rains.

Both tennis and cricket matches are not immune to rain interruptions; but while tennis will resume full and proper after a rain break, the same cannot be said about cricket.

Cricket has its own complicated rules for rain delays popularly known as "Duckworth/ Lewis method" which is a highly complicated affair for any sane mind.

This rule is sure to sabotage a cricket coach's mind especially if his team is travelling to the Sub-Continent or to England. Tennis coaches enjoy an advantage over their cricket counterparts when it comes to weather disarrays.
And thus, as I conclude my article, it is a dawn of new realisation that no coaching is easy. it’s always a case of "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" and I am secretly glad that I am just a fan and not a sports star who maybe tempted to take up coaching. The job is better left to the experts who handle everything so "expertly!"