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

Below, guest blogger and ACI Coach, Josh Nevett gives us his 3 main reasons to seek professional coaching for your child.

Every parent wants the best for their child, and this is no different when it comes to helping them pursue their cricketing dreams! Whilst local club and school cricket can expose young players to highly experienced and skilled coaches, it is very difficult for these coaches to fully invest themselves in individual players in this setting. 

So, where do we turn for that personal touch? The professionals of course! Here are some of the reasons that professional coaching makes for a great addition to the holistic development of a junior cricketer. 

1. SMALLER GROUPS ALLOW FOR PERSONAL, OBJECTIVE FEEDBACK

Every player is unique, and it is pivotal that they are treated as such through targeted analysis and coaching. 

Professional coaches bring a weight of experience and knowledge that allows them to recognise certain characteristics within players that may not be noticed in a local cricket club setting. For example, elements of technique and personality traits can be acknowledged and, therefore, the coach is able to help a player within their own personal nature. As the Australian run-machine, Steve Smith has shown, being unconventional is not something to discourage! 

Rather than pressuring young players into conforming with the batting ‘textbook’, top-level coaches look to harness difference when it can contribute to overall development, shaping juniors into players who are confident in their personal set of skills. After all, new competitions and formats such as the IPL and ‘The Hundred’ have created an environment where the innovators of world cricket are able to thrive and are often the most successful!

Further, feedback from leading coaches always revolves around the goal of developing the best cricketer possible. There is no danger of coaches playing favourites in this setting; each individual is provided with information that has the players best interests at heart.

This is evident in the ACI’s implementation of video analysis into its programs, the camera never lies! How can you best demonstrate to a player the areas of strength or weakness in their game? By allowing them to see it with their own eyes. It is this level of attention to detail that serves as a contributor to efficient coaching sessions and in turn, (the outcome we’re always after) better matchday performance.

2. THERE IS MORE TO CRICKET THAN SKILLS

Whilst cricket can essentially be reduced down to taking wickets and scoring runs, it is an understanding of the complexities of the game that can boost a developing players achievement and enjoyment within the sport to the next level. 

In the setting of club cricket, there is only a relatively small window of time available for teams to train and therefore key aspects of cricket such as tactical awareness, mental preparation and physical conditioning are neglected in favour of net-based skills training. This net training is useful for maximising the volume of practice in a large group, however, it doesn’t prepare players for match scenarios. 

Tactical awareness is about establishing specific plans which can produce desired results on a regular basis. Tactics are needed to provide clear purpose and direction on the field; clarity of the mind is crucial to the execution of fundamental skills such as bowling the desired areas and selecting the appropriate shots to play as a batsman.

Professional coaches are able to prepare players mentally by determining their personal areas of fear, anxiety or stress surrounding the game and providing strategies to combat these inhibiting states. Creating an optimal headspace also involves boosting positive thoughts and emotions, so aspects of mindset such as confidence, achievement and calmness are also explored.

Thirdly, physical conditioning is essential to any successful cricket training regime as the modern player needs to be able to perform at high intensities, recover quickly and prevent injury. Specialised coaches are aware of this and make sure growing athletes are well equipped with fitness programs that are not just effective, but also fun!

From this it is clear that the environment created within a professional coaching setting allows for these not so well covered elements of cricket to be explored and, therefore, young players are able to get the maximum value out of the skills they already have.

3. DEVELOPMENT IS A 24/7 PROCESS

Professional coaches understand this and, therefore, are creative in forming training programs that players can undertake anywhere and at any time. The learning never stops.

This is contrary to the common status quo in local cricket, which is to train for a couple of hours, one night per week leading into matches. Whether its batting drills for the backyard or learning resources that teach key elements of technique and mindset, professional coaches are able to meet the demand of hungry young players who simply can’t get enough of this great game! 

This also ensures that the hard work undertaken during in-person coaching is not lost or forgotten between sessions, fostering a process of continuous growth. A consistent approach allows each session to become a progression on the last which is the ideal environment for improvement to take place and learning to be maximised. 

The ACI also incorporates a strong emphasis on reflection into its programs, encouraging players to look back on their time spent engaged in cricket in all settings to better understand how to get the most out of themselves.  

The culmination of this is young cricketers who are driven, consistent and self-aware, a combination of traits which can be seen in the greats of the modern game.

Registration for the ACI's 2020/21 - Foundation (8 to 10 year-olds), Junior (11 to 14 year-olds), and Youth (15 to 17 year-olds) Academy Programs are now open. For more information please register your interest here

Alex Carey joined us recently as apart of our Junior Cricket Wellbeing and Activity Program and was so forthcoming with information and advice that we thought we'd put it all into a blog for all you budding cricketers out there, both young and old!

AFL VS CRICKET 

Alex is well-positioned as a multi-sport disciplined athlete to talk on the vigours of professional setups and the pressure that comes along with that.  We asked Alex his thoughts on this;

"When playing multiple sports and the commitments that come along with that, communication is key. Know who you trust and utilise that support network. Don’t be pigeonholed, do as much as you can. Don’t put pressure on yourself either. Just enjoy the different aspects of the games and challenge yourself with the differing skills. Sport is awesome and gives you a lot of life values, I still hold my junior days close to my heart and have a lot of fond memories."

Below we go into more detail about his mentality on the different disciplines within cricket.

‘When juggling a lot of commitments, be honest and talk to your coaches and staff members, speak about your situation and know what you're trying to achieve and people will support you wherever you go, always willing to assist.'

 

WICKET-KEEPING MENTALITY

"When keeping you have to be super focused and concentrated.  You also need to have good balance and be relaxed. When missing opportunities, you’ve got to be prepared to put them aside, assess them and move onto the next ball. Hard work and training is key! Glutes need to be super strong, high intensity because you’re squatting so much."

"White ball cricket is a little different compared to red ball.  You don't take as many balls, but when you do it’s usually a chance - so be alert and upbeat and bring the energy to every contest. Work is done in training to sort out performance!"

Alex answers a question to do specifically with keeping to spinners;

"It differs between hard wicket and playing on turf. Be wary of the bounce you’ll need to deal with on synthetic pitches. Stay nice and low, in a strong position and ready for the ball to get up around your ears sometimes. Watch that ball and more often than not you'll be able to take that chance whether it’s a stumping or catch. Turf will spin more, be more variable and stay a bit lower. The main point is being in a great position and set up when the ball is released. You also need to be able to trust your instincts and have your head in line with the ball when it bounces."

'We are human and you are going to feel those emotions of disappointment. Worry about the next opportunity instead. Good players are judged on their learnings from their setbacks. It’s a normal feeling, but try and make sure you don’t make those same mistakes twice. Keep a smile on your face and go around again!'

 

BATTING MENTALITY

Alex discusses his own batting technique:

"I’m still chasing perfection and always developing my batting technique. Don’t change things just to please people and coaches, setbacks will make you a better player and you’ll start to understand who you trust and what works for your game. You always need to be searching to be a better player. Whether it’s mentally or technically you need to be in whatever position is comfortable that helps you get the best out of yourself. Try different things but don’t just do something because someone tells you to or reckons you should. It may be something as simple as changing your stance on the crease, it may be the really little things that help you the most! There’ll always be an element of failure in your batting, even the pros are tinkering with their techniques, so keep working at it!"

Some key points around his mindest when chasing a score whilst batting:

"Don’t be too worried about the outcome. Have the target or chase in mind, but you can only react to what the bowler bowls. Don’t just try and score one side of the field, if you’re in a good frame of mind you’ll be able to utilise your technique to access different parts of the ground. Remember to stay calm throughout. When you’re in a run chase you can get ahead of yourself, you can be rushed and worry about things that are out of your control. Take a deep breath and understand what the bowler is trying to bowl with the field they set.  That should keep you away from those frantic thoughts. It’s a big part of my game to calm my thoughts, not everything will come off, so be it! Calm yourself and trust that you and your batting mate out in the middle will get the job done."

'If it’s technical or something that needs attention, get to training and try and work on it as much as you can.'

 

KEY ADVICE

Alex regularly captains his state and is the vice-captain of Australia's shorter form teams. His take on being a leader on-field;

"Captain while the ball is not being bowled. Meaning - make your decisions, have your fielders in the right place and then switch back onto catching that ball. Simplify it as much as possible and make sure you’ve got a good helper out there, whether it’s a mate or a vice-captain to bounce off of. You need to be able to communicate with a teammate. But when it comes to it, watch the ball and not the field."

Alex continues when asked about on-field banter;

"I don’t bother with chirping too much, I like to focus on taking the ball and doing my job and the rest should sort itself out. The better players normally welcome the challenge so you have to be wary of what you’re saying."

And finally his advice on training;

"You certainly have to train across all three facets of the game. Not just batting and bowling, but fielding is essential too. This will help make you a vital team member and a really valuable asset, to be able to take the ball when needed or step up with the bat when required. I think on a personal note, I give everything I have and never have any regrets. When you leave your day at training just know you’ve done everything you can to achieve what you needed to."

For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

Let me start by saying - everyone gets nervous.

Yes, some more than others, but everyone experiences nerves on some level. Nerves can be healthy if channeled correctly.

After all, it means you care about what you're doing.

Performance anxiety on the other hand, is unhealthy.

Performance anxiety is an extreme case of nerves caused by your fear of not being able to perform and carry out the task (whatever that may be).

Signs your child might have performance anxiety include;

  • Not being able to sleep before a game
  • Trembling
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • They have a rapid heart rate
  • They don’t want to play

Again, some nerves are completely normal and even healthy, but if they start getting to the point where they affect your child’s ability to perform or cause them to not want to go to the game, it becomes performance anxiety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are what I call “The Three P’s” to help reduce performance anxiety…

PREPARATION

This is without doubt the #1 contributor to your child feeling confident heading into a game.

Confidence stems from;

  1. Knowing you’ve done the job before and/or
  2. Knowing, deep down, that you’ve done everything you can do to prepare.

The better your child’s preparation, the more confident they will be. And confidence is a great nerve buster.

This means doing extras outside of training, working with some quality coaches etc.

I know anytime I went into a game knowing I’d taken short cuts, I felt that little bit more nervous.

PLANNING

Once they’ve done the preparation, spending 20-30 minutes prior to their game doing a bit of planning will certainly help.

Highlighting their strengths and what they’re doing well is a great idea because this is what they want to focus their game plans on during the game.

Identifying what they’re not doing so well so they can stay away from that during the game.

E.g. “I’m playing really well square of the wicket against fast bowling, so that’s where I’m going to focus on scoring my runs. I’ve been struggling against spin so I’m going to be a bit more cautious when the spinners come on”

Hashing out their game plan clears their mind and allows them to relax a bit more the night before and morning of a game.

Even thinking about their opposition if they know them and having plans against certain players.

They should have clear batting and bowling plans.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

Once they’ve done everything they can to prepare and plan, if they’re still not feeling great, give them some perspective.

At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen?

They get a duck and 0/50.

They’ve probably done that before and they will do it again in their lifetime.

The world didn’t end last time it happened did it?

Whilst we all love the game and care about our performance, it really doesn’t matter what happens in our U/14 club game on the 14th of November 2020 in the grand scheme of things does it?

There are a lot bigger things going on in the world and I think stepping back and taking a higher level look at it like that can really help remove fear and anxiety.

If did for me when I found myself getting a bit caught up anyway.

I hope that helps!

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

Co-Founder of Australian Cricket Institute 

 

 

Alex Carey, the current Australian One-day and T20 vice-captain & wicket-keeper recently joined us for an interview as apart of the ACI's free 4-week Junior Wellbeing & Activity Program.  Below is an overview of the interview along with some questions & answers that some of our lucky members of the program got to ask.

Alex's had an interesting journey thus far, playing both footy and cricket growing up and right through his schooling days until year 12. Once things got serious, he elected to go down an AFL pathway into the national draft. He had to choose one, he definitely loved cricket but couldn't pass up the opportunity to play AFL. This meant no cricket for 2 full seasons, no practice, no skills. After his decision to return to cricket, this meant finding his way back into the South Australian system by making his way through grade cricket at Glenelg. He credits his brother and dad a lot - always being there for him in terms of coaching, participation & moral support. That's where we'll pick up the interview;

‘To be elite at whatever you choose to do in life, you’ve got to work really hard and be passionate. The best normally do the most.’

ACI: Who were your biggest role models growing up?

AC: My father and older brother are certainly my two biggest supporters. Lots of young cricketers have their parents around to be their role models in life and it’s such massive support. In a professional sense, I loved watching Adam Gilchrist play - obviously being a left-hand wicket keeping batter like myself. The way he handled himself on the field, he always had a big smile on his face. Now to have a relationship with him and call him a mate is pretty special. Not only playing-wise but morally to have him as a role model was fantastic to aspire towards. At the end of the day though, family is key!

ACI: Do you think AFL is a good crossover sport for cricket?

AC: Certainly, football and cricket are two awesome sports. Footy keeps you fit, you're outdoors and you have a heap of mates on that team. Basically any sport that involves a ball, hand-eye, and lots of activity are great options to do while you’re not playing cricket.

ACI: Do you have a wicket keeping routine?

AC: Yes and you definitely should have one in between balls, especially if you don’t need to run up to the stumps or be involved in the contest. You should try and switch off as much as you can but my routine is;

  1. Look around the field and the positions.
  2. Mark my spot and scratch where I need to stand.
  3. Crouch into the hands and knees…
  4. Into stance and switch back on.

ACI: How much time do you dedicate to your batting vs your keeping when training?

AC: Personally, keeping is my number one skill so I do some really solid sessions around that. Some days it’s one or the other - I have to be able to trust my preparation for that. The off-season can be a lot about recovery and making sure you’re mentally prepared to go around again. In this time there are probably more opportunities to do longer sessions, get more time into the legs and do some higher volume with my batting prep.

He continues...

‘You need to take ownership of your own game and make sure you have that feeling of achievement when you finish the training session. It can be a juggling act chasing the perfect preparation leading into a game, you need to be fresh but you also need to keep those skills relevant.’

ACI: During the World Cup semi-final, how did you respond to being hit by Jofra Archer?

AC: We were under a fair bit of pressure at the time already, not the ideal situation you want to be in when needing to post a big score. Jofra is an elite bowler and he’s so skilled, I don't know how he does it. I copped that bouncer on the chin and got a few stitches in but was lucky to be batting with Steve Smith at the other end. It was probably more uncomfortable if anything plus I had to hold up the game. As it started going numb and a bit sore, for me personally it was about us posting a score which we could defend. I was so focused on us getting the job done and playing a good innings, I would worry about the repercussions of injury later.

ACI: Who’s the best bowler that you’ve faced?

AC: Rashid Khan is the best I’ve kept to, he’s quite special. He’s also bowled to me and is really tough to pick.

ACI: Your favourite format?

AC: They’re all exciting for different reasons! T20 is certainly a rush, one-dayers are a real test of your skills over time and 4-day cricket is all about patience. I love them all for different reasons!

ACI: Favourite venue to play at?

AC: Adelaide Oval - it’s pretty cool. Otherwise, Lords. Lords is Lords, the history that’s there with the old stands. We won two world cup games there so it’s quite a special place to play! It’s a strange slope, but you’re overawed by the history there.

ACI: Who do you follow in the AFL?

AC: I follow the Adelaide Crows, as well as Dylan Shiel at Essendon and have a soft spot for the giants.

ACI: Do you prefer batting or keeping more?

Depends if I make runs (laughs) however, keeping gives you another chance to be a part of the game!

ACI: What have you been doing cricket wise during isolation? Are you training and still catching balls?

AC: Yep certainly doing lots of running, I really enjoy that. I’ve got some weights out in the backyard to get something through the legs. I’ve got my golf balls for catching as well. I’m also having a hit tomorrow going indoors to keep my skills up. I can’t sit still so I really enjoy trying to stay fit and strong as well as hitting balls - it’s what I love doing. Right now I’m really appreciative of the time I can have with my family.

ACI: Thanks so much for coming on Alex! We really appreciate it and we’ll be supporting you in the Aussie colours when you’re back! 

AC: My absolute pleasure and it’s so great to see these questions coming through and it’s great to have that support!

For the full interview head to our Facebook page by clicking here

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFO ABOUT THE 4-WEEK JUNIOR CRICKET WELLBEING & ACTIVITY PROGRAM - CLICK HERE