I’ve been very lucky.

My parents chose to put me into structured sports and as a result I think I’ve learnt a lot of key skill sets that help me not only with social life, but work and business life as well.

I’m not saying that this is just in cricket, however that is my medium of communication today.

Cricket is a different game, a silly game to many.

Spending a lot of your time preparing and practicing only to get a small go at it each weekend.

There are many important skills that I feel you find and develop from the uniqueness of cricket (and other sports) that really set people up for success.

You hear it quite often that many CEOs or high performing people have either come from an elite sport or military background.

This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

I’ve compiled the 5 key skills that your child will learn playing the game we love, which will ultimately help them for the rest of their life.

1. Deal With Failure

It may sound weird but I think one of the best parts of playing cricket is how well you get used to dealing with failure.

I mean, how often to most players go out and score 50 plus runs? Or take 5 wickets in a game.

There are very few sports that give you one go at something and if you don’t do it right, you sit out for most of the day!

I think understanding the relationship that players have with failure, and overcoming that fear ultimately contributes to more consistent performances.

Transfer that into real life, or work and school and this gives people greater confidence and an understanding that failure is okay, it’s just doing the same thing badly all the time isn’t going to get you anywhere.

2. Ability to Handle Feedback

Being involved with coaches, playing in a team sport and learning constantly, you will encounter many of these people giving you feedback.

Some good, some bad.

The one thing in cricket that I think really helps with players outside of their game is how they can handle it.

Of course, many players don’t deal with it well, but the majority have at least been playing the game have had to dissect and receive negative feedback before.

This can be a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, but I find being involved in teams and constantly reviewing their games, techniques and performances, you find that players seem to be a little bit better at taking it and trying to find ways to make them better.

3. Setting & Achieving Goals

Another crucial aspect that we rely heavily on in our academy programs is having players set, reflect and more often than not achieve goals.

Engraining these thoughts and habits into younger players at an earlier age only bodes well for their schooling and other interests.

It’s teaching this skill effectively and just having them being aware that small improvements over time result in greater outcomes in the end. It’s called the compound effect.

I’ve been amazed at how such a simple skill isn’t necessarily common practice to many people who haven’t been exposed to it and I think it’s just a natural thing that players do in our game.

Even subconsciously.

4. Working in a Team With Different Personalities

Not everyone you play cricket with are going to be your best mates…

Actually you’ll find over time that you will encounter quite an eclectic bunch of people.

Our great sport draws many types to the game we all love!

But somehow when you have to all come together with a common goal or purpose stuff like that doesn’t matter.

I think this is a very key ingredient to team sports.

Having the ability to work in with such different types of people, but coming together and trying to achieve the same task or result.

This skill in itself is invaluable. Be it in the work place, in the school yard or just socially in general.

Being introduced to this through the medium of sport makes their life a whole lot easier on the outside.

5. Accountability For Actions

Being accountable for your actions is sometimes a throw away phrase.

But for people who have been in team environments, especially one like cricket you see there is merit in it.

Having that awareness to stick to your role within that team and not steer away from that.

Choosing to work within the team structure and knowing that if you make a mistake or do something away from your strengths and it doesn’t work, the group will pay the price, not just you.

A lot of these skills and traits develop subconsciously, and as I mentioned earlier, aren’t necessarily just native to playing cricket.

But what I have noticed over time is the bond and lessons that I have learnt on the fields, are very, very similar to life so far.

Sometimes not necessarily fair, or something that you want to do, but at the same time something that needs to be done in order to be effective and win.

So on that note, if you are a parent or coach I thank you.

The kids or your players may not think it yet, or may not even come to realise it at all over their time, but you have done them a massive service in life by having them involved in a team sport such as cricket.

Written by Joel Hamilton Co Founder ACI

One of the really tough things about being a coach is seeing and dealing with the sadness and disappointment of your players when they fail, especially knowing how hard they’ve worked and how much it means to them.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a parent myself yet, but I’m sure that feeling must be magnified when it’s your own child.

A lot of parents I speak to have said they feel helpless in the situation, so my aim here is to give you some simple things you can do to help them not only feel better and get back into a positive mindset but also learn from it.

 

PERSPECTIVE

I think the first thing to do is to put the game and their failure into perspective.

Help them to understand that while yes, the game is important to them, there are so many worse things and people in worse situations around them.

There are people who have to walk miles everyday just to get clean water.

There are people that don’t have food.

People who are missing basic necessities to live and have crime going on all around them.

This is something I try to be conscious of all the time, especially when I’m getting upset about cricket or any other effectively trivial things and it really helps.

A quick dose of perspective really helps you realise getting out for a golden duck  really isn’t that bad.

Once they understand this, any time they get in a funk in the future you can just look at them, point your finger, raise your eyebrows, smirk and say “perspective” Haha.

POSITIVITY & SUPPORT

One of the best things you can do is remain in a positive mood and give them love and support.

Of course you want them to succeed but one of the main reasons they’re upset is because they haven’t impressed you and made you proud.

Their world revolves around that.

I remember when I was a young tacker, all I wanted to do was score runs and take wickets so I could go home and tell Mum and Dad.

If you show disappointment or even worse anger - it’s going to crush them.

Show them that you still think the world of them no matter whether they get 100 or 0 and that’s going to really help improve their mood.

Note: Please don’t confuse this with the ‘everyone’s a winner’ attitude. Kids still need to understand that there are winners and losers, there is success and failure…it’s not an ‘everybody wins’ world.

But they do need to know that you love them and think the same of them regardless of whether they win or lose.

 

LEARNING

Now they’ve calmed down a bit and they’ve established you don’t care whether they win, lose, succeed or fail - now it’s time to help them understand that failure is only failure if they don’t learn from it.

Every single person in the history of sport has and will continue to fail.

Failure is the best teacher.

Help them learn from it by creating positive learning conversations and asking questions.

Here’s a few to start with…

WHAT - did you do well today and what do you need to improve on?

HOW - did you feel out there today and in that situation?

IF - you were in that situation again what, if anything would you do differently?

DISTRACT

Ok, we don’t want to dwell on it for too long!

One of the best things I learnt was to create a life away from cricket and learn how to seperate on field with off field.

Talk about other things with them.

Even better, go and do something fun with them after they’ve had a rough day on the field.

Take them to do something they enjoy away from cricket.

I know some kids live, eat & breathe cricket…if that’s the case maybe introduce them to some other hobbies and activities.

It’ll help them forget about their crappy day and put them in a better mood.

I hope that helps although hopefully they don’t have too many rough days where you have to pull out these stops!

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

ACI Co Founder & Head Coach

 

Time is your absolute asset at training. We generally only get to be around the group and have instant access to coaches, training partners etc for 3-5 hours a week, depending on the level you play and your training schedule.

The rest of your work is done in your own time.

You NEED to make to most of every single minute you have at training.

Here’s my top 4 things that you can do to to maximise your time at training and I guarantee, done consistently will have a HUGE impact on where you end up as a player.

1. PICK UP BALLS FASTER & WITH INTENT

It seems so obvious, but SO many players waste a lot of time picking up pellets in between drills or machine buckets.

Aside from just generally showing hustle while doing it, the best and fastest way to pick up a lot of balls is knock them all into a corner of the net, walk up with the bag or bucket and grab them together all at once.

A lot of players dawdle around picking them up one by one or even worse, hit them back towards the bowler/thrower/machine, and they go everywhere out the end of the net.

Wasting time on such a simple and controllable task is average - don’t do it.

 

2. LEAVE ON AS MUCH GEAR AS YOU CAN

Again simple, but you’d be surprised how many players take off their helmet, both gloves, both inners and leave them 10-15m away when it’s their turn to throw/feed.

The time it takes you to take that gear off and put it on again when it’s your turn to bat you could have hit 10-15 more balls.

Leave your non throwing hand’s glove/inner on. Even your helmet if it’s a short turn around. Keep your gear close.

3. SHOW SOME URGENCY

Don’t move to the next drill/station like a sloth that’s just woken up from a nap!

Show some urgency and jog between drills. Be waiting to go when it’s your turn next.

It’s not hard but the 30 seconds you save really adds up.

4. HAVE A DOWN TIME PLAN

The single biggest time waster at cricket training is standing there having a yarn after you’ve had a bat or you’re not clear on what you should be doing next.

Batsmen are the worst for it - standing at the kits bags after taking their gear off talking about how bad the umpires decision was on the weekend 😉 😂.

In all seriousness, you need to have a plan with what you’re going to do during down time.

No matter what environment you’re in and how well prepared your coach is, there is going to be down time at cricket training.

Go into every training session with 3 down time options that correlate with something you want to work on.

Here’s a list of simple things you can do in down time.

SOLO

  • Throw at a stump.
  • Fitness or agility work.
  • Practice getting in and out when running between wickets (also works on fitness).
  • Focus ball work.
  • Reflex catching on a wall.
  • Bat tapping  - hand on handle, start on face and progress on to edge (I’ve got an awesome bat tapping game called around the world, if you want it flick me an email nick@australiancricketinstitute.com).
  • Juggling and ball handling drills.

WITH A PARTNER

  • High catches - do 20 in a row, make your partner work (this also incorporates fitness).
  • Short catches off the face.
  • Competitive fitness - you’ll always get more out of it. Always.
  • Throwing to a mitt - work on really giving it a rip. (If you don’t have a  baseball mitt get one. They’re 30 bucks and they’re a staple).
  • Throw downs - work on something specific.
  • Target bowling in the middle. Go out to the centre and get used to running in to bowl at each end.
  • Have a conversation - discuss bowling plans, batting plans or even give each other some honest feedback on what you think their strengths and weaknesses are and what you think they need to do to take their game to the next level.

 

THE COMPOUND EFFECT

How about this…

I’m going to make some assumptions (very conservative ones) and say that…

You waste at least 10 minutes every training session in ‘down time’ - talking, doing nothing…whatever.

Picking balls up faster, leaving gear on and showing urgency is going to save you AT LEAST 5 minutes every session.

That’s 15 minutes a session and 30 minutes a week (conservatively) that you waste.

If you train for 8 months of the year that’s 960 minutes or 16 hours a season.

Lets say you’re going to play 15 more years of cricket, that’s 240 hours.

240 hours of quality, purposeful training that you can add to the bank with not a lot of effort.

How many balls could you hit, bowl, catch in 240 hours?

What would that do for your game?

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co-Founder & Coach

In my opinion, creating a training environment that is as close as possible to the one we experience out in the middle is a critical contributor to the way a player performs but it’s something that’s largely overlooked.

I think it’s an area that cricket can improve dramatically (and is in the process of doing so), not just at junior level but senior level as well.

I’ve picked out 5 really common training behaviours that we see and I’ll explain why the create bad habits in a players game.

 

 

1. TOO MUCH WORK ON THE BOWLING MACHINE

This is is a big one…

It happens at team/group training sessions as well but I think a big contributor to this one is the huge influx we’ve seen in players just getting one-on-one coaching.

One-on-one’s are great for certain things and in limitation, but I think they’re very limited in the things you can do and they don’t allow a player to learn how to compete (that’s another story though.)

Let’s focus on bowling machines.

Some of the bad habits and negative effects of too much time on a bowling machine are…

  • Moving before the ball is released.

Because you generally know where the ball is going to land you tend to start getting into position before the ball is released. Do this in a game and you’ll get yourself into big trouble.

  • False sense of security.

Because you know where the ball is going to be and you’re moving early, you generally strike the ball well on a machine. This causes a false sense of security because it’s completely different to facing a bowler.

  • Inability to read bowlers cues & slow reaction time.

The above mentioned causes an inability to pick up on bowlers cues - when they’re bowling short, when they’re bowling full, how they’re holding the ball. It also has a negative effect on your reaction time.

All that said, I’m not completely against using machines. They’re great for certain things…

Technical work and getting your shapes right on a certain shot.

But don’t over use them!

PRO TIP: If you’re not facing bowlers, use a side-arm. Far better for your reaction time and ability to pick up cues.

2. BOWLING WITHOUT MEASURING YOUR RUN-UP

I know sometimes circumstances don’t permit, but when possible all bowlers should be bowling off their full run-up - the same run up they use in a game.

Too many bowlers just run in from wherever at training or go off a ‘half run’.

I also believe every single fast bowler should measure their run-up with a tape measure.

How do you expect a stepped out run-up to be the same every single time? It’s simply impossible.

Garden tape measures are 25 bucks. If you want to improve your bowling consistency it’s a no brainer. Get yourself one.

Bowling off an inconsistent run up creates the following habits and problems…

  • Lack of fluency.

There’s just no way you’re going to develop a smooth, fluent and consistent run-up if you’re training and playing with a different run-up all the time.

  • Bowling no-balls.

This one is pretty obvious. Your strides are going to be different, you’re going to be taking off from different positions and that will contribute to the likelihood of you bowling no-balls.

PRO TIP: Buy a garden tape measure from Bunnings, measure your run-up to the millimetre and use it every time you bowl. Your run up will be more fluent, you will bowl less no-balls and it saves time in a match (measure both ends before the game starts).

3. BOWLING WITHOUT STUMPS & UMPIRE

The stumps and umpire act as a visual cue for when to start your take off and delivery stride.

If you don’t have at least stumps and better still an umpire (or something to imitate an umpire) you’re going to develop the bad habit of…

  • Late entry into delivery stride.

This will lead to bowling more no-balls and then feeling like you have to hold back on your run-up in a match.

Have you ever felt like you’re steaming in at training and then feel like you’re bowling at 75% in a match?

PRO TIP: Use anything you can to imitate an umpire - chair, witches hat, agility pole with a hat on it, kit bag…anything is better than nothing!

PRO TIP TWO: If you are bowling noey’s in a game and feel like you have to hold back, ask the umpire to take a couple of steps back, this can help by giving you an earlier cue.

4. BATTING WITH NO FIELDERS

Obviously you can’t have fielders in the nets (if you can have centre wickets jump at it!).

But what’s the next best option?

Use cones, stumps, pool noodles, chairs…whatever you can to imitate fielders in the nets.

Two benefits….

Bowlers are thinking and getting into discussions about their fields (developing tactical & game awareness).

More importantly, it gives you, or the batsman a visual cue on where the fielders are and where the gaps are.

Now you have to actually think about where you’re hitting the ball which is completely different to hitting the ball anywhere.

Too many players hit the ball anywhere and everywhere in the nets without any accountability or thought of where the field is.

That causes an inability to hit gaps.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard…”I feel so good in the nets, why can’t I score runs in the middle.”

That’s why.

At all of our Junior & Elite Youth Academy sessions we get bowlers to set fields with coloured cones in bat v ball sessions (infield and outfield colour).

PRO TIP: At the very least get your bowlers to set their fields verbally when you go in to bat. Then take a mental snap shot.

 

5. BATTING WITHOUT A PLAN OR PURPOSE

A bit of a follow on from #4.

A lot of batsmen walk into the net session with absolutely no plan or purpose around what they want to get out of the net session.

Are you practicing opening the batting?

Are you working on closing out an innings?

Do you want to practice ticking the scoreboard over like the middle overs of a one day game?

Not only your plans but the bowlers plans are going to be vastly different in those situations.

  • Inability to develop plans.

If you go in and just ‘bat’ your ability to develop plans and react/adapt to different situations of the game is not going to be at an elite level.

Go to training with a clear plan on what you want to work on that session.

Make sure you let your bowlers know before or as you’re going into bat so they can also work on their plans. Win win.

  • Lack of competitiveness.

Going in to just ‘bat’ is easy. There’s no pressure, there’s no competition.

Giving yourself scenarios is going to create pressure and teach you how to compete.

We want to develop competitive players.

PRO TIP: Be very clear on your role in the team and work on scenarios that you’re likely to find yourself in on a Saturday to create the “been there, done that” feeling when you go out to bat.

If you’re anything like me, a bowler that bats in the bottom 6, you’ll be practicing going in and doing the top 6’s job fairly regularly.

Haha jokes! Love the top 6 vs bottom 6 banter!

Anyway, I hope that’s helped!

Would love to hear which of those training behaviours you think you can apply to make a difference in your game.

Drop a comment in the box below or flick me an email on nick@australiancricketinstitute.com

Written by: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder & Coach

 

I want to address something that I’m sure is common in every sport but in this case, I’ll talk about its presence in cricket.

It’s the habit of ‘chasing the next shiny object’ (I reckon everyone suffers from it in some area of their life).

What I mean by ‘chasing the next shiny object’ is always wanting to do something new and different.

Getting bored with doing what’s required to get better and what’s required to succeed.

Yes, it’s part of human nature to want to do new and exciting things but as an athlete you need to get comfortable with repetition and doing the ‘boring’ things.

It kind of frustrates me when I hear players, or parents of players say, “Is this session going to be different?”

Yes, us and other coaches are always looking for better ways to improve a player’s game but at the end of the day cricket involves a limited number of skills and you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.

Success often lies in simplicity.

Just because you play a perfect cover drive doesn’t mean you never have to practice the cover drive again.

Just because you bowl a great out swinger doesn’t mean to never have to practice bowling an out swinger on the top of off stump again.

Just because you’re involved in a discussion about batting or bowling plans doesn’t mean you never have to speak or think about plans again.

 

REPETITION

Cricket, or becoming better at any skill for that matter, is about repetition.

Repeatedly executing the skill so that it becomes autonomous and part of your muscle memory.

You might have heard of the 10,000 hour rule?

“To master a skill, you must practice it for ten thousand hours.”

I’m not sure that’s entirely correct or hard and fast because there are so many variables, like how quickly you learn and the quality of your environment and training

But I do know that to get really good at something and execute it consistently at a high level, you need to practice it a lot and practice it well.

So, unless you can hit a cone with a straight drive 20 times in a row from 15 meters away, don’t tell me you’re ‘bored of hitting underarms.”

Or unless you can rip the 20cm x 20cm target off the top of off stump 36 times in a row, don’t tell me you’re bored of target bowling.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a young player or someone coaching/parenting a young player.

Understand that becoming a quality cricketer is a process and it takes time.

You don’t need to be able to execute every skill and know everything there is to know about the game in your first few years playing.

QUALITY

Like I said, I think you can accelerate that 10,000 hour process by making sure you’re training with quality and in a quality environment...

  • Train with a clear purpose.
  • Surround yourself with other driven players and good training partners.
  • Make sure YOU are a good training partner - by that I mean become a good underarm thrower, side arm thrower, machine operator, catch hitter etc.
  • Make training challenging (balance it with repetition.)
  • Set yourself outcome-based targets.
  • Try to simulate a match environment where possible.

5,000 hours in an environment like that will get you a lot further than 10,000 poor training hours…

Guaranteed.

If you'd like to train with the ACI this year >> Click Here

 

EXPERIENCE BRINGS NEW PERCEPTION

I’ve played over 15 years of senior cricket at a decent level and I can’t tell you how many out swingers I’ve bowled at a target at the top of off stump, how many underarms I’ve hit at the back net or how many times I’ve talked about my bowling plans in the first 10 overs of a game.

One thing I can promise you is that each year of experience you get under your belt will bring a new perception on all of those things we do over and over again.

The conversations and training doesn’t change, the way you perceive them does.

The conversation I had about bowling plans when I was 15 was a completely different one than the one I had when I was 22 or 27.

You learn things, you understand things in a different light and you apply all of that previous experience you have to the next out swing drill you do or batting plans conversation you have to make them better than the last.

Please don’t be a serial shiny object chaser.

Get comfortable with repetition.

Get comfortable with doing the ‘boring’ things.

Don’t be in a rush.

Respect the process.

If you think the ACI can help you do that (and I've got no doubt we can) >> Learn how you can train with us.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

ACI Co Founder and Coach