A part of my role with the Australian Cricket Institute is to help design the most ideal training environment to encourage our player’s personal growth and development; as well as skill acquisition with the bat, ball, in the field and in the mind! It’s been a pleasure working across many Melbourne metro academy pre-seasons this winter. It’s wonderful to see our players learning how to give their best, I’m certainly still learning many lessons on the way! 

So let's have a chat about that;

Coach Learnings

One key take out I carry with myself throughout my coaching and mentoring, as well as my own personal training, preparation and attitude in life are that we must make mistakes in our training in order to develop.

Too often, we get caught up in perfecting the art, nailing each shot out of the middle of the bat or presenting the perfect seam each delivery as a couple of examples. Ever felt the frustration when it's ‘just not your day’ with the bat or ball?

This is such an innate part of our game, that we get hung up on far too often rather than embracing it. 

 

Mistakes Happen

Making a mistake is a vital progression in learning as a cricketer and growing as an individual. Recently, a young academy member, a talented pace bowler, came across this situation during pre-season.

He couldn’t land his stock ball and was being hit all over the park in a scenario net session. He wasn't used to this, he seemed quite bemused with what was happening. Yet after his self-identification of the issue and discussion with a coach to devise his own plan, he had a clear vision in his mind of what he needed to do to rectify the situation.

This gave him his best opportunity to put in practice and execute on skills our academies have been teaching.  The end result was that he was able to develop his own understanding of the task at hand even when confronted with an uncomfortable situation. 

 

It's Up To You!

Coaches can’t be out there in the middle with their players. I would prefer to see our players have difficulty grasping some concepts and help them by exploring their own capabilities within, rather than offering them a shortcut or an easier option.

The thought process a youngster goes through identifying when something is wrong and finding his or her own mechanism to be able to solve this is a key indicator for progress in cricket training and personal development.

That same young fast bowler then knows how to tackle similar issues head-on and won’t be making recurring mistakes or form bad habits with his training. 

Let's Break Down the Process

For common issues faced on the cricket field, the process we teach our players enables them to handle the pressures themselves! 

  1. Identify the Mistake (self) 
  2. Plan of Attack (discussion with the coach, ask questions) 
  3. Execution of Skill (do your best!) 
  4. Review (seek advice and be honest) 

Without noticing our mistakes, our training has limited structure and finding the next facet of your game to work on can be difficult.

Ask yourself if you’re really getting better, or are you just randomly hitting and bowling balls? Review every session you do, however simple, to guide the next step on your journey. 

Australian Cricket Institute coaches ask ‘why’ or ‘how would you?” and prompt our players to access their own skillset to overcome a challenge. This promotes a neutral environment where mistakes are encouraged.

We compete in various scenarios to discover the mental tools we need, so competition isn’t as daunting out on the field as it would seem. 

 

What Are You Waiting For?

My advice? Make mistakes! See what sticks, do your best to throw yourself in tough situations where you need to problem-solve.

I can assure you, constant growth in this area along with your developing skill set as a young cricketer will take you to the next level, much more effectively than being told what to do will.

We’ve talked the talk, now let’s walk the walk! See you out on the park this summer.

If you'd like to check out what we've got coming up at the ACI visit >> Upcoming Events & Programs

Author: Seb Contos - ACI Coach & Clinics Coordinator 

 

We all love watching cricket right?

Some like watching all forms, some like watching certain forms over others.

Most people view watching cricket as a form of entertainment in their down time, but what if we could turn watching cricket into a valuable learning tool to improve our own cricket?

Well, maybe you can…

I think the first port of call is to actually be present and conscious of what you’re watching. That means your focus and attention needs to be on that and nothing else (the same as when you want to learn or get better at anything).

Here’s five ways you can improve your own game by watching cricket (live or on TV).

1. PREDICT WHAT THE CAPTAIN WILL DO

A great way to learn is to put yourself in the shoes of the best.

What would Paine do? What would Williamson do? What would Kohli do? What would Root do?

When you’re watching cricket see if you can predict what bowler the captain will bring on, when they will bring them on, when they’ll make a change, when they’ll declare, when they’ll go from pace to spin or vice versa.

You’ll get instant feedback on wether you’re thinking the same as them and start to absorb their way of thinking.

Also ask yourself why you think they did or didn’t do it.

You can even turn this into a little game and write your predictions down and keep score. Challenge a mate or family member to play along with you.

2. PREDICT WHAT THE BATSMEN/BOWLERS WILL DO

Watch the batters and bowlers in action closely.

See If you can pick up on their strengths and plans and then predict what they’re going to do next over or even next ball.

Predict what type of ball the bowler will bowl or what shot the batsman will play.

This can be a bit easier in shorter form cricket when there’s a bit more action and plans can change quickly.

It’s doable in test cricket - plans just tend to go for longer periods.

Doing this will make you much more aware and you’ll be learning how elite players go about it.

Again you can turn this into a little competition.

 

3. TAKE NOTICE OF AND REVIEW PLANS

Every time a bowler finishes a spell or a batter gets out, see if you can summarise their plan and review whether it worked or not.

It doesn’t have to be a novel, an example would be something like this;

“David Warner’s plan was to pounce on width outside off and shorter balls. He looked hesitant to drive unless the ball was very full and was looking to score when the bowler erred in length or got too straight. He was leaving as many balls as possible in the corridor. The plan was working well, he was scoring freely but lost his wicket when he went away form his plan and tried to drive a ball that wasn’t quite there.”

You can do the same for bowlers based on their lengths, lines and field settings.

We've got some great resources and training videos in our online academy - another great way to improve your game without going to the nets. You can learn more about it and grab a free trial by clicking the image below.

 

 

4. LOOK AT FIELDS AND ASK WHY?

It can be a bit harder on TV because you can’t see the full picture sometimes but do your best. It’s a good exercise for when you’re watching live.

Analyse every single field that is set at the start of the over and ask why?

Why is there a fielder there? Why have they not got a fielder there? Where are they looking to exploit this batter?

Consistently doing this is going to train your brain to be able to problem solve and develop plans out in the middle.

5. TAKE NOTES

Whenever you’re doing the above four, take notes!

Two reasons…

  • The act of writing something down with pen and paper has been proven to increase retention. Meaning you’re going to learn and remember more.
  • If you do it for a whole summer you’re going to have an awesome little playbook of lessons and learnings from elite players - gold!

All pretty simple stuff but the purpose behind all five activities is to increase your engagement and awareness of what’s going on. The simple act of that alone will improve your game.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder & Coach

Cricket is a team game.

Yes, ultimately it is largely down to individual performances that cause the result of a match, however at the end of the day you are working with others to achieve an end result.

One thing that we find continually is neglected these days is the importance of playing a role within a team.

Players at a young age are quick to think of themselves before the need of the team.

This is human nature, so when we are in a position to do so, it comes down to awareness of this role and the importance it has on the team.

Becoming a better team mate is something that everyone can do. No one’s perfect!

The idea behind this is to ensure that your members feel safe and confident to do what is needed of them.

We’ve identified 4 key traits that players need to identify and implement to become a better team mate.

 

1.Celebrating Successes

Although a broad topic, really the name suggests it all.

Great players and team members always ensured that team or other individual successes were celebrated.

By going out of your way to ensure your team mate is known of their great performance, this helps continue tight team camaraderie and a heightened level of confidence with players in your team.

Also the reality of it is, that in this lovely game of cricket, you will not always succeed or perform to yours or the needs of the team.

2. Create Unity

Really good players and team members have the ability to bring groups of people together.

This can be done in many ways on the cricket field.

A simple one is to ensure that when you are batting, all your team members sit close together and cheer on the runs and performances of the current batters.

There is nothing worse than when you are out in the middle against 11 other players to turn around and see that half your team are on their phones or no where to be seen.

Having this close unity as a group and sticking together will help players while under pressure out on the field as they will feel much more confident that they have the teams support.

3.  A desire to help your team mates.

Having a desire to go out of your way compared to doing the bare minimum is a massive trait that many players take for granted.

Examples of these are going to get the hat of the bowler from fine leg and giving it to the umpire.


Or it could be to ensure that you regularly run water out to the set batters to help relay messages.

Harnessing this desire to do what ever it takes for your team mates to feel comfortable and confident at the crease is the key to being a good team mate.

4. Be Respectful

This has obviously many sub categories and I’m sure you can name a few.

All it comes down to is making sure you show great respect to not only the opposition but also your team mates as well.

Things like making a scene when going out (throwing your bat or hitting the dressing room chairs etc) are all not on.

Personally I think this is a selfish act. Who knows how this effects your team mates out in the middle or even the next ones in.

They may be totally switched on to their preparation, but now after witnessing the tantrum or having to duck for cover as hurricane sooky pants came in because they missed a straight one, may not be the ideal preparation and eventually serves as a distraction.

 

Overall I think the major message in this is to make sure you are aware of the team and their needs.

Having that mentality will ensure that you are able to do whatever it takes to keep the momentum going.

Because yes, cricket is largely based on individual performances back to back, but I don’t think many people realise that your performance isn’t just limited to when you have a ball or bat in hand.

Your job isn’t done when you stop scoring runs or bowling balls.

Your job is still to make sure that the other person who’s taken over has everything the need to make sure they can perform at the same level you wish to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written By: Joel Hamilton (Co Founder and Head Coach)

Pat Cummins has had a huge 12 months which has resulted in him becoming one of, if not Australia’s most popular player among fans and winning the Allan Border Medal.

Aside from the obvious - bowling fast, taking wickets and scoring valuable lower order runs, I thought I’d take a look at some of the reasons he’s adored by fans and the traits that you’d do well in adopting from the star quick…

1. He's Adaptable

No doubt Cummins would probably love the new ball. He bowls with it for NSW and Thunder.

But he’s been given a job to do with Australia, coming on first change, and he’s adapted to it brilliantly.

He bowls from any end and bowls whenever he’s given the ball. He doesn’t whinge or complain. He gets on with it and does his job.

Become Adaptable.

2. He Gives 100% One Hundred Percent Of The Time

Pat Cummins runs in and bowls at 100% - all the time.

He bowls the same pace in his last spell as he does in his first which isn’t always common in fast bowlers.

He puts a huge price on his wicket for a number 8 batsman and tries to bat for as long as he can, no matter how hostile the bowling is.

Every time Cummins has the bat or ball in his hands it looks like he’s playing to win or save the game, no matter what situation Australia are in.

You should strive to do the same.

 

3. He’s a Fierce Competitor

Pat Cummins competes hard.

There were some times during the recent test series where Australia were no hope of winning or saving the game and he was batting against some pretty hostile bowling on lively decks. Cummins scrapped for long periods of time, when a lot of other fast bowlers would have had a swing to get out of there as fast as they could.

On the flip side - when he’s on song and Australia are on top, he puts his foot on the oppositions throat which we saw with some devastating spells of fast bowling and it was great to see him get some bags of wickets.

When the competition is even and the wicket is flat - he seems to more often than not force something to happen.

Learn to compete like Cummins.

4. He’s Humble

I think another reason Cummins is so likeable is because he’s humble.

As I said earlier, he never complains or whinges about bowling first change or where he bats.

He never boasts about how good he is or how he’s going to do this and that.

He gets on with it, lets the bat and ball do the talking and gracefully accepts any accolades that come his way.

Be humble.

5. The Way He Carries Himself Off The Field

I don’t know Pat personally but from the outside it looks like he’s got his life and priorities in order.

He’s in a long term relationship with a partner he seems to treat with love and respect. He seems to have a good set of values and morals and he’s never in the media for poor behaviour or any of the wrong reasons.

I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say a bad word about him!

If you model your off field behaviour on Cummins, you’ll position yourself well.

Now, go work at applying these five traits to your game and life.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Australian Cricket Institute Co-Founder & Coach

 

 

The time used between balls by many players is not used very effectively by many players.

Cricketers come to the Australian Cricket Institute with a common problem. “ I get bogged down after a few balls and then play a silly shot and get out” or “ I have trouble bowling the ball where I want to consistently”.

For some, and to the naked eye, that’s a technical deficiency, which most likely is a contributing factor.

However the other side of it that hardly any people explore or consider is what is going on between their ears.

Cricket is a game of stop, start, hit a ball, stop and have some down time then only to be going back to getting ready to hit the ball again.

In this down time, most players use their time negatively or not at all. Your ability to be consistent and achieve the desired outcome over and over again is technical yes, but the time you spend in between balls is just as crucial.

Using this time well can help with staying in the moment. Thinking about what you need to do right now.

Too many players think about what has happened or what is going to happen. e.g. “ What if I play and miss again” or “I just bowled a wide, don’t bowl another!”.

If you can overcome your mind and use this time effectively the benefits are there to see.

Your concentration levels last longer, you make better decisions, you are not affected by the situation of the game as much and as a result you can make clearer decisions.

Below I’ve listed out 5 different things you can implement into your between ball routine that can help you from drifting away and putting pressure on yourself.

1. Positive Self Talk

A very simple one to start off with but sometimes quiet hard to master.

The important think with this is to realise that you are always going to have negative thoughts or reactions when you do something wrong or under pressure.

The important part is trying to wipe that as quickly as possible and turn those thoughts into a positive.

This can be practiced and done on any occurrence.

Instead of thinking “this bowlers too fast here, I don’t want to get hurt!” You could go down the path of “his pace is going to make it easier if I use that to my advantage, wait for the full overmatched ball but the rest I can use the pace and run it down to third man”.

2. Quick And Non Bias Self Review/Reflection

A lot of players spend so much time in between balls sweating about what shot they’ve played.

How many times have you seen a player hit it straight to a fielder and drop their head back in annoyance?

Or keep playing the same shot that they wanted to for the whole time between balls and then face back up?

I’m not saying you can’t practice the shot you wanted to play, but a lot of people spend too much time worrying and sweating on that ball and what they did wrong.

What you can do is really simply review and reflect on your shot and move on to something else as quickly as possible.

It could be as simple as a rating out of 10 and then what you’d do differently.

Short. Sharp. And finally,  wiped clean so you don’t spend the next minutes or balls thinking about it.

 

3. Breathing

This is a relatively simple one.

It’s been proven that when you are under pressure or stress, your heart rate will go up.

The easiest way to lower that is by controlled breathing.

If you can actually focus on your breathing you’ll find that not only will it help you get your breath back and decrease your heart rate, but it will also then take your focus away from the game and other thoughts!

Try in for 5 or 6 and out for 7 or 8.

Allocating some time between balls to do this will help you get your levels back to even and you’ll be able to make better decisions.

4. Anchors to Distract You Away From The Pressure

Many elite players use certain actions or sequences of movements to help them switch off or take themselves away from an uncomfortable environment.

These pressures and distractions can look like the 'yappy' annoying slips cordon, concentrating on certain parts of the environment, scoreboard pressure and of course those negative thoughts we spoke about previously.

By having certain actions that take you outside of the situation, this helps you clear your mind and use that down time in a different way not thinking about those above pressure.

Some of these look like:

  • Walking out to square leg
  • Signing a song between balls
  • Staring out of the field of play and switching off from the contest
  • Watching people out on the boundary or those not involved in the game
  • Undoing gloves

As mentioned these “anchors” or whatever you want to call them, help players take them self outside of the contest and the stresses.

I’m sure you may even do some of these already.

5. Visualisation

Finally another tool you can look to use is visualisation.

This is a very underestimated and yet quite an effective way to help players feel confident and problem solve during their time on the pitch.

The power of visualisation is quite influential.

Visualisation during your innings or while your bowling can help you settle yourself into your role or give you the confidence to replicate during your innings.

Using some of your time in between balls to see yourself playing that correct shot or bowling that ball in the right area.

When visualising, go deep into it. How does it feel, what does it look like, what does your body have to do in order to execute that shot or particular ball.

The more you can replicate how real it is and the exact movements the more realistic it is and will transfer into your mechanics of what you are doing.

It may be you visualising playing the ball confidently, or getting into a powerful and balanced position when playing your shots. Alternatively from the bowling perspective, it may be you coming and bowling a great length ball hitting the batsmen bat high on the splice as they are coming forward.

You can play out any scenario in your head before you’ve done it and it will fill you with the confidence to execute this in real time.

So there you have it, these are some techniques you can implement into the time you spend in between balls.

My advice is not to just copy and do all of them, find a sequence of events that is comfortable to you, but more importantly works.

The whole point of this is to use your time effectively in between balls and take your thoughts away from the negative things and elevate the pressure that players put on themselves.

How you do this is ultimately up to you, these are just some techniques you can implement.

Lastly, this between ball routine has to be repeatable. You cannot achieve consistent results if you continuously randomly do these actions.

It is a method to doing them and there has to be a distinct reason in your routine as to why.

These processes are for you only and as a result can be done however you like in your own way.

Don’t copy Steve Smith or David Warner just because he is a world class player as these will not necessarily work for you.

 

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Co-Founder & Coach