We all know cricket can be a tough sport on the body, however, what is often just as demanding is the ability to stay mentally fresh through an entire summer. In my first 3 seasons playing senior cricket, I averaged 40+ before Christmas, and <20 for the remainder of the season. So how did I change this ugly yet all too common trend? Here’s my blueprint. 



Before I get into the physical tips and tricks, I want to leave a saying with you that I continuously come back to. You guessed it, the quote goes “You have to love it”. I was told this while batting in the middle of a green seamer in Bundaberg, Queensland as a 14-year-old getting sprayed by 40+ year old men - to say I was rattled would be an understatement! However it is these kinds of challenges that continuously pop up in the sport we love, and without that love for the game, it can be very challenging to keep on enjoying it. 


Like any sport, effort doesn’t always equal reward and at the end of the day, the ability to find other enjoyments within the game, such as getting around your teammate's success, can be the difference between unconditional love and a dying passion. Once you find this unconditional love, the ability to stay motivated throughout an entire season becomes a routine. 



1% better each day, the art of continuous improvement… You may be wondering, why would we ONLY get 1% better each day when we can set larger goals and go hell for leather at them? Because this is what often leads to burnout, frustration, and a sense of failure. Think about it like this, the cricket season is a marathon, not a sprint. Actually, the marathon keeps going until the end of your career! One of the greatest things I could have ever entered into my life is the notion of routines. Routines are defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed and are the key drivers of the 1% better each day theory. 


Now I’m not saying you have to wake up and go for a run every morning at 4am... Routines can be as small, or large as you like. It is important that you keep your routines realistic; once again, you’re not trying to build Rome in the time it takes to put together an Ikea couch… you’re in it for the long haul!

My 3 tips for effectively incorporating solid routines into your life are: 

  1. Write them down! 
  2. Set goals. e.g 6 days out of 7 in a week 
  3. Start by adding on to routines you already have. e.g after I brush my teeth I will read for 15 minutes…



This might sound counterintuitive to my above point, however, the ability to take a break from your daily/weekly grind will only enhance your ability to meet your routine goals. Every single person is different, and it is not for me to tell you just how much you can handle before you need a break. What I can tell you, is that at some point we all need to slow down and enjoy some well-earned time off. One thing that I personally struggle with is the feeling of guilt when I am not going flat out in life. This can become a vicious cycle where I then fail to take the time I need and end up sick or unmotivated for a longer period of time than I would have had in the first place. 


As you get older, understanding your own body and mental capabilities will become more clear allowing you to make these decisions on when you take a break much more effectively. My biggest advice would be to just listen to your body, it has ways of telling us when it isn’t feeling its best, and if we don’t listen we will end up breaking down. Another point is that you must communicate these feelings with the people that it matters to, this will help them understand you better and make life a hell of a lot easier into the future. 


I hope you enjoyed this blog and got some useful information out of it. I encourage you all to look further into the theories I have put forward today and work out just what is best for you personally. Share this blog around and don’t be afraid to message in with any questions you might have.








Article Author: Josh Matthews

National Programs Manager

Australian Cricket Institute

After running coach and club inductions for the past 6 months - it got me thinking about how a volunteer coach can really make a difference with their team and what key habits lead to success. 

Below are 4 skills that have helped me transition from a junior cricket volunteer into a professional junior coach over the past 8 years. Even if it’s something you’ve heard before - putting these into action will ensure you’re creating the best environment possible for the team's success and your own as a coach and leader. 



{The ability to work through a plan with others}

The first step is making sure you have a thorough session plan to run with at training. Outline your drills, timings, and coaching points clearly and cohesively with you and your team prior to kicking off. It will make life a lot less stressful when you arrive and also give you the clarity to focus when it comes to delivering a quality session. 


Mapping out an outline for the season and overall goals (team and player), outcomes and individual targets you and your team are looking to achieve is vital to take care of the long-term direction. Lay the ground rules to begin with and make sure everyone is on the same page about basic expectations as well as what you’re willing to do to help them. 


Planning needs to be consistent in your approach e.g. for each week, each session, each program. The best way to make sure it doesn’t become a burden is to keep it simple wherever possible. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes the morning of / night before a session it will make a world of difference for everyone’s clarity as well as your own.


{Communicating in a variety of situations and settings}

Above all - you need to be sure you’re communicating with your players directly. I like to put myself in their shoes wherever possible so I can speak with them as honestly as possible - as well as giving my view on things. Try and avoid being instructive - the old-school authoritarian method. Sure, you’ll need it some days if things aren’t right or if players are struggling. However, to encourage proper development and learning, it’s always best to help others find the answer themselves or for them to put it in their own words. 


The use of question-based discussion, diaries, handouts, video feedback, and group discussions are some ways you can keep communicating messages across with different tips - for them to digest and put into action. 


Secondly, it’s how you coordinate with other coaches, volunteers & parents involved. A team brief prior to training or once a month can help you discuss plans and incorporate new ideas too. 


During drills and training - your voice and feedback are where you can start to make further inroads with your side. It’s important to avoid standing at the back of the net and overseeing things. Get involved as much as possible, having one on one chats to the side, taking a small group for a quick demonstration, and talking to them about what you’re seeing. These are the conversations and coaching points that will stick with a player most of all. From experience, you will always get better engagement with someone when speaking to them rather than at a whole group/collective unit. 



{Progressing and challenging your players/coaches to their respective levels}

Avoid doing the same thing each week. Monotonous net sessions and one fielding drill for the year won’t lead to progress. Instead, look to spice things up where you can and make sure you’re training a variety of skills and keeping plans fresh to keep the team on their toes each time they rock up for training. 


Increase the difficulty as you go and initiate group challenges and team-based activities. This will help create a pressure environment and make sure anything the players are doing is always match-specific in their preparation. 


Create the most fun and engaging environment possible. At the end of the day, everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have as much fun as possible. You play your best cricket when you’re enjoying yourself, not worrying about performance or results, and freezing up. When players are eager for each session, it also helps them drive training standards. Developing genuine rapport and relationships with those around you will make sure the squad is tight-knit and ready for any challenge thrown their way. 


{Utilising feedback and advice to the best of your advantage}

Specificity is the key here - when giving and passing on feedback. We want to make sure there are always actionable points or things to work on and tangible ways you can take that conversation and make a difference next time. 


For each individual - try and give them some points they can keep working away at outside of training. An hour and a half each week isn’t a lot, if you can begin to pass that learning and progression into their hands they’ll be able to stay on task even outside of your sessions. 


For yourself, don’t underestimate what reaching out to others can bring to you. Whether it’s insights on something you’re unsure about or helping you reaffirm something you’re working towards. Always seek advice and feedback from others on your performance and use it to gauge where a player is at and how they’re developing. 


Constantly review and ask questions to make sure you're going in the right direction and tailoring your approach wherever possible. 

What is working well for us? 

What do we need to keep improving on? 

How can we start to make that happen next week / what can I do to make sure players can improve in this area? 


These are just a couple of quick questions I'll think about to myself in the car ride on the way home and something you should definitely add to your process. It’s a great way to keep moving forward!

Thanks for reading! 

Seb Contos








Article Author: Seb Contos

National Programs Manager

Australian Cricket Institute

One of my favourite parts of working with coaches and players right around the country is discussing and discovering different ideas, viewpoints and mentalities towards success through leadership. Here are some of the most valuable and attainable lessons I’ve learnt through the game and the amazing people I’ve encountered along the way. 


Impacting others around you in a positive way only brings benefits

  • Leaders help shape the direction or path that others can follow through
  • Be selfless, show initiative and put your hand up to do things that others might be hesitant to do
  • Engage, encourage and affirm your peers, it goes a long way to gaining respect 
  • Learn to listen and understand - show empathy to someone else's situation. This will grow your emotional intelligence through all sorts of situations and challenges


Decision making is the key to tapping into your potential

  • Making critical decisions under pressure is a major skill you can develop on and off the field, whether it be about bowling changes, team selection or thinking about how to train and prepare
  • If you’re in a tough spot - put yourself through the ‘TV Test’. Does your decision hold up if you had to explain it to a national audience live? 
  • Being ethical and having reasoning behind everything you do will grow your confidence when at a crossroads
  • Take on feedback - it’s not a knock on you personally. Take your time to have your decisions assessed by others, reach out when you are unsure. Using those around you is a sure way to get the most out of a group, as well as expand your influence and skills. There are always people willing to help, you just have to ask for it!


Developing tactics, strategy & plans will help you become as prepared as possible and keep you calm in the heat of the moment

  • Knowing your teammates, coaches and plans inside out is essential to developing rapport and relationships
  • Adapting when things aren’t going your way is all part of it, don’t be afraid to look at plan B or C - have that ready to go before you take the field 
  • Be a student of the game, good leaders are able to read momentum, anticipate what’s ahead and pivot to give your side the best chance of winning the next contest/phase
  • Setting team values and expectations early engages all to be team first. Set the standard

Body language & demeanour portrays how much you care

  • Show you are a leader with how you hold yourself - you are who people look to!
  • Ensure you are doing the 1%ers e.g. chasing the ball hard, wearing the correct clothing, positive chat… it all counts!
  • Have a growth mindset, personal development is the key to continuously meeting your goals and staying motivated


Understanding your role will help you stay focused when it's your turn to stand up

  • At the end of the day, coming back to your own strengths and weaknesses is key
  • When the time comes for you to perform and take ownership of the contest, leaders don't make excuses. Get in there are give your best for the team in the position that you know you can do well
  • Avoiding distractions and keeping your mind clear and focusing on the task at hand is imperative to make sure you’re contributing with bat/ball/gloves first and foremost


Here’s what the ACI team came up with as our definition of leadership, what’s your mantra?

  • Josh – “A person who is respected and heard by their peers” 
  • Joel – “A leader is someone you look to in situations you aren’t confident in yourself”
  • Seb - “A leader always helps others and shows the ability to help engage and get the best out of the environment they’re in without making excuses”
  • Ray – “A Leader has an innate ability to step up when others don’t or won’t” 
  • Nick “A leader paves the way, they set the example in familiar territory and they’re the first to take a step into the unknown while others watch on to see what happens”

Just a hint… you don’t need to be captain to be a leader! Have a go, give your best and your side will be better for it!


Seb Contos








Article Author: Seb Contos

National Programs Manager

Australian Cricket Institute

Below, guest blogger and ACI Coach, Josh Nevett gives us his top 4 tips on the difference between a good and a great fast bowler.

As a player climbs the ranks of fast bowling, it becomes clear that the margin between a good and great fast bowler can be very small. This blog will look to help young fast bowlers bridge that gap and achieve their fast bowling goals.



The harsh reality for any cricketer, but more specifically fast bowlers, is that progression is directly limited by the lack of a strong, healthy, and fit body. Skill with the ball is definitely vital, but the lack of a strong physical base to complement this will eventually result in a lesser ability to bowl long spells, more difficulty focusing over the course of a bowling day, longer required recovery periods for future training/matches and the more regular occurrence of injury. These inhibiting factors don’t even include the limits that poor physical condition places on increasing bowling speed, which is what most fast bowlers desperately pursue!

Some of the physical requirements of great fast bowlers are as follows:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular power and flexibility

Gains in these areas are made through consistent cardiovascular training (running, cycling, swimming), gym-based strength programs (weights), and flexibility training (yoga, stretching). In addition to such training, a balanced diet and healthy sleeping habits will maximise the results gained from sessions. 


Having the ability to bowl 140km/h and swing the ball both ways is enviable, but without carefully formulated bowling plans often the most highly regarded bowling skills go to waste. All of the great fast bowlers have multiple specific plans that they can call upon to focus their bowling in a variety of different situations. 

For example, an express quick may seek to utilise their pace by integrating short balls into their overs with both close and deep catching fielders on the legside to support this. A swing bowler may look to construct an over so that they swing the ball away from the batter for the first few balls before delivering a ball that swings into the stumps to target a bowled or LBW dismissal. 

Bowling plans require an understanding of the balls you want to bowl, the shots you want a batter to play, the dismissals you are aiming for, and then matching up field placements to complement this. As previously mentioned, it is best to have multiple plans available in order to combat different styles of batting. These plans should play to your individual strengths.

When you ‘just run in and bowl’, you are more prone to emotions and external factors impacting your performance negatively, so plans are essential to narrowing your focus and creating a blueprint that you have full confidence in on matchday. 


Bowlers will face the full spectrum of bowling conditions over the course of their playing days. There will be days where the pitch is green and skies are overcast, and others where the opposition are 0/200 on a flat pitch under the boiling sun. Regardless of this, truly great bowlers will consistently show the passion, confidence, and resilience to want the ball in all game situations, embracing challenges as a growth opportunity.

By shying away from tough scenarios where taking wickets or limiting runs is less than likely, bowlers cost themselves the learnings that are required to tackle the same situation when it inevitably reoccurs in the future. Hopefully, after reading this you put some consideration into developing bowling plans.  Tough, pressure-laden match situations are the perfect time to use these plans. 

Furthermore, many of the best bowlers are picked on their ability to execute in tough situations alone e.g. specialist death bowlers and specialist middle overs bowlers. Most of the time, these players don't receive much assistance from the conditions or opposition, but they play a vital role in the team sport that is cricket. 

In conclusion, approaching all bowling situations with a positive attitude and clear focus will ensure that you get the most out of yourself as a fast bowler. 


Training habits are a key area that contributes to the 5-10% difference between good and great fast bowlers. Let’s paint a picture of the key differences.

A good fast bowler will go to training on time, bowl a large load of overs, perhaps take some wickets in the nets, and bowl in good areas. But, they also may be bowling 2ft no-balls without considering proper routines. Perhaps they are going against the principle of avoiding ‘just run in and bowl’. If you were to sum it up, they train without purpose. The consequence of this is that training becomes a practice of maintaining rhythm and fitness rather than pursuing genuine improvement. 

On the other hand, great fast bowlers approach every session with a clear focus. Whether it's trialing a new bowling plan, honing in the accuracy of a new variation ball, or addressing a delivery stride technical flaw, there is always a goal that is geared towards improvement. In order to achieve this, great fast bowlers also aren’t afraid of asking their coaches and teammates questions, a habit that reaps the benefits of multiple experienced opinions. 


Article Author: Josh Nevett

ACI Academy Coach