Lessons learnt after Mbatha’s first season with the Dolphins

Durban – Following a successful end to his first season as part of the Hollywoodbets Dolphins coaching set-up, Mduduzi Mbatha wants to take all he learnt from his debut franchise season and kick on when the 2020/21 season begins.

The former Durban High School pupil had a strong playing career that included playing for the South African Schools team, however after leaving school he shifted his attention to coaching when studying in Pretoria.

The 32 year-old returned to KwaZulu-Natal to take up the position as head of the KZN Coastal Academy before being promoted to fielding coach of the Dolphins at the beginning of last season.

A first season with the Dolphins brought with it many lessons for Mbatha and he understands the amount of focus and intricate analysis is needed at that level.

“This season was a lot of learning for me,” Mbatha said. “The training methods, the depth of analysis of other teams as well as making sure that each player is on top of their game are things I learnt.

“Everything is done in more detail and it’s crucial that the guys are honing their skills and ready to go before the game starts.

“There is a lot of behind the scenes work done and making sure that the guys are better equipped going into games through hard work is vital.”

With players at franchise level being the next in line to represent South Africa Mbatha believed that they would have a good understanding about their games. He says that he has learnt that the role of coaches is crucial for players at that level.

“When I started I thought that the players would have a better understanding of their game but I realised that players are vulnerable and need guidance.

“They are still trying to figure out their games and learn as much as they can so sharing information with players at franchise level is just as important as sharing information with a player at junior levels.

Giving the players the best possible chance to succeed is something that Mbatha focuses on constantly and makes sure that he can get players into the right frame of mind to produce the best results.

“Everything is very player-centred now so as coaches we have to make sure that the players know their roles and know what to do.

“If they are training well and feeling good physically and mentally then they are in the best place to produce good results so player management is hugely important for us and we take a lot of pride in making sure our players are in the best possible shape.”

Going into the new season Mbatha has highlighted areas that he wants to focus on and improve on as a coach.

“Next season I want to be more skills specific with the guys,” he mentioned. “I said that I took for granted that the players would be at a certain level especially fielding which is my main role.

“I want to be more skills specific in everything that the players do from fielding to batting and to bowling so we can help in upskilling the players and making sure they are always working on their skills.

“Guys are getting the individual attention now during the off-season and working hard on honing in on those skills that they need to improve on.”

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