Having played, worked and coached in an elite and sub-elite cricket environment for over 15 years, I’ve noticed some common differences in the habits and behavioural traits between players that make it to the top and players that don’t.
Here’s my top 7 signs that a player might be destined for higher honours….
They’ve got a growth mindset and are constantly searching for ways to get better.
There are plenty of players who are happy with where they’re at, and that’s fine.
But elite players seem to never stop.
They’re always seeking out ways they can get better.
They never think “I’ve made it”. They always see room for improvement.
It’s a fine line because you don’t want to be too hard on yourself and you want to celebrate your progression and success, but as soon as you think “I’ve made it” you lose that edge of having a growth mindset.
They welcome constructive feedback & criticism and take it well.
It’s not easy to accept anything but positive feedback.
The natural reaction to any type of criticism is to get defensive. I still battle with this myself…
I’m sure everyone does.
I think this one ties in with the above, having a growth mindset.
Cricketers need to become great at filtering. You’re going to get hundreds of different ideas coming at you from all different angles. I always encourage players to take it all in. Never dismiss someone who’s trying to help, but you need to become very good at filtering out what doesn’t work for you and applying what does.
They don’t compare themselves to others and take full responsibility for their actions.
Cricket’s a really unique sport where it almost feels like you’re competing against teammates on occasions, and you need to get past that feeling as soon as you can.
I’ll put my hand up and admit that as a younger player I sometimes had thoughts like…”I hope he gets out so I can get a bat.” or “I hope he bowls badly so he doesn’t get a 5fa and I keep my spot.”
I reckon you’d be lying if you said not one thought like that has crossed your mind ever.
Elite players seem to take complete ownership of their actions and the cards they’re dealt.
If they don’t get a bat because they’re down the order, it’s because they haven’t prepared well enough and haven’t scored enough runs.
If the other opening bowler gets 5fa and they get 0. They celebrate their teammates success and review what they could have done better.
If they miss out on a selection…
They get better. Not bitter.
No matter what environment you’re in. School, university, work, sport…
If you’re not autonomous you’re going to be resigned to mediocracy.
Players with that ‘edge’ don’t wait for the coach to tell them what to do. They’re really clear about what they need to work on and they get stuck in.
They’re self motivated and consistently do the hard/boring things when no one is watching.
This is a big one.
It’s really, really easy to put in 100% when you’re in a team environment and when your coach is watching your moves.
That’s when 99% do and 1% don’t.
What’s not easy to do is consistently make good decisions when absolutely no one is watching.
That’s when 99% won’t and 1% will.
That’s when it’s easy to say “I don’t feel like going for a hit today”
Or to hit the snooze button at 6am when you’d planned to get up and do some sprint training.
That’s when it’s easy to say “I’ll have that second piece of mud cake.”
I really want to challenge every young player to be conscious of every decision you make. Because consistently making good decisions and choices can snowball into extraordinary results.
They have a competitive instinct and drive to win.
Competition is healthy. Competition is good and competition drives you to get better.
At the end of the day, every Saturday morning when we get out of bed during summer, we’re all visualising a win.
Again, it’s a fine line. You don't want to encourage the ‘win at all costs attitude’ but you do want to encourage a competitive environment.
The players in our programs that really stand out are the ones that…
If you ask them to count how many times they hit the target they can tell you and exact amount at the end of the session.
If you ask them to count how many time they hit the ball through a gate they will.
If you ask them to count how many runs they get and ho many times they get out during a net session they do.
They have a healthy appetite for competition.
They seek out environments that will be positive for their development and quality mentors.
Elite players put themselves in environments that are both positive & challenging.
They seek out experienced coaches and mentors.
They realise that not being in an environment like that will hold back their development.
That’s the type of environment that the ACI makes available to every player with the drive and commitment to become the best they can be.
Authors: Nick Fitzpatrick & Joel Hamilton
ACI Co Founders and Coaches.