Representative cricket is considered to be the pinnacle for young players beginning their cricketing journey. It introduces many of them to ability-based selection for the first time, and those who are picked are exposed to high calibre players, coaches and facilities.
However, the strong competition for places in rep squads means that inevitably most children who trial will miss out. Whilst this is undoubtedly disappointing for the individuals impacted, like any setback in life it should remain just that, a setback. Disappointment provides opportunities for reflection, perspective and growth, and improved outcomes in the long-term.
So, how can parents assist their children to maintain a positive outlook after missing rep selection?
1. ENCOURAGE & SUPPORT THEIR EXISTING COMMITMENTS
The great thing about sport is there is always another chance just around the corner!
If your child is on the cusp of playing rep cricket then they are already likely to be playing club cricket and performing quite well, so it is crucial that parents encourage their children in this environment. Obviously, missing out on a rep team shouldn’t directly impact upon other passions and commitments, so it is up to parents to provide their child with the encouragement they need to continue their other activities.
2. IDENTIFY THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS & HOW FAR THEY'VE COME ALREADY
The road to representative consideration shouldn’t be forgotten. Your child has clearly excelled in their club or school cricket and by prompting them to reflect upon this a sense of achievement can be born, where it was perhaps lacking after missing selection.
Identification of achievement and progression is also crucial to your child regaining trust in the efforts and processes they have undertaken to reach this point. A quick return to a growth and opportunity focused mindset through resilience will prepare a young player for future setbacks and can only be positive for long-term development.
3. 'DON'T GET BITTER, GET BETTER'
It is a saying that is so simple, and yet so powerful. When a young player misses out on representative selection an instinct may be to direct anger towards the coaches, or the overall process. However, this cannot change the situation.
On the other hand, we all have the ability to influence the future and by encouraging your child to focus their energy on improving skills and training smarter, your child will put themself in the best possible position to improve their selection outcome next time.
Through practice, this can become part of a healthy growth mindset and will be an automatic response to seemingly negative events. At the end of the day, this is the best path towards goal achievement and self-betterment.
4. OUTLINE THE BIG PICTURE & OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD
Thankfully, in the present day, there are many developed and accessible pathways in the Australian cricket system. So, after missing out on selection it is important that you ensure your child is given this perspective.
There will always be another opportunity, whether it's through future representative competitions, school cricket, junior club cricket or senior cricket, and young players should never feel constrained by a lack of opportunity. In fact, without an understanding of possible pathways players will often place much more pressure on themselves to perform, resulting in reduced performance.
As mentioned previously, if your child has had the opportunity to challenge for a rep squad then they are definitely in the conversation to play at a higher level; as long as they maintain their belief and passion there will be a next chance sooner rather than later.
5. HELP THEM ESTABLISH A PLAN OR GOALS TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANT TO BE
It’s easy to feel lost or anxious when events don’t go the way we planned, however much of this stress can be relieved if there is clarity about the future and a clear path ahead.
Young players are far more likely to be optimistic for the future after missing a rep team if they can establish goals and methods of achieving these that are specific, realistic and achievable. It is important that these goals don't necessarily just focus on making future teams, but aim more specifically at holistic improvement. This kind of roadmap will instil confidence and reiterate to your child that there are many different ways of measuring success.
Parents have a vital role to play in supporting their children throughout their journey in cricket, whether it be celebrating their achievements or encouraging them through more difficult periods.
Representative cricket may be a great experience, but missing out is not the end of the world and the experience of not making a squad can ultimately have a hugely beneficial impact in the long run.
Guest Author: Josh Nevett