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

 

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….

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

  1.  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.

 

  1. They’re autonomous.

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.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

Authors: Nick Fitzpatrick & Joel Hamilton

ACI Co Founders and Coaches.

Thivi Salwathura is a 12-year-old opening batsman who’s had one of his best seasons yet, scoring 570 runs and taking 29 wickets

At the start of the season, Salwathura felt the pressure of needing to score quickly, and found he was distracted by negative self thoughts.

“I felt that I was always thinking about the past; What I did in the last six balls? Am I quick enough? What do I look like? I found I wasn’t watching the ball carefully enough and it was affecting my performance,” he said.

For a young player, being able to identify the negative chatter as an inhibitor to greater results showed the need for self evaluation.

 

Take Your Game To The Next Level: Click Here To Find Your Nearest ACI Location

 

“At the start of the season my goals were to bat for longer, not lose concentration and get through the first 15 balls. I realised I needed a routine and that I need to be 100% in the moment,” he said.

Applying the same mental routine used in training and competitive matches meant that Salwathura improved his performances, and as a result was selected for his rep side.

“My season went pretty well. I got into the U12 rep team when I wasn't sure I would, and I actually made a couple of 40’s becoming the leading scorer for my team. I also batted for longer periods of time and took five wickets in an U15’s game,” he said.

 

Take Your Game To The Next Level: Click Here To Find Your Nearest ACI Location

 

Training with the Australian Cricket Institute (ACI) also gave Salwathura more confidence throughout the year, saying that training harder meant he could achieve his goals.

“I enjoyed the ACI program because it was really competitive, and I was able to learn about what I can do better in game scenarios. The webinars with guests and international players were also hugely beneficial,” he said.

ACI Head Coaches Joel Hamilton and Nick Fitzpatrick have been nothing short of impressed by this young right arm off spinner and opening batsman, so much so, they say his ability to learn and action key strategies are beyond his years.

“Thivi has really surprised me with his attention to detail in developing his game plans and also how committed he is to learning and getting better. He has always strived to learn as much as possible while at our program, and his ability to take on feedback and implement it back into his game so quickly is a great tool for him to have at such a young age,” Hamilton said.

 

Take Your Game To The Next Level: Click Here To Find Your Nearest ACI Location

 

“The other aspect he’s really worked on is his mental game; creating a routine for him to spend his time in between balls more effectively, which has helped him clear his mind from nerves and any negative thoughts or emotions he is feeling. By doing this he’s really become much more clearer with his batting and bowling, and the consistency pays off, “Fitzpatrick said.

Staying focused in the lead up to next season is paramount for Salwathura’s preparation and decision making, advising other players to follow a routine and stay in the moment.

Author: Kara Bertoncini