Every parent wants their child to perform in the sport they love, so they can enjoy it, develop confidence and improve their self worth.

Doing well rubs off on other areas of their life as well.

It’s a fine line, you don’t want to get too pushy or involved because that can have the opposite effect.

Here are three things you can do without being overbearing…

1. ENSURE THEY’RE IN A GOOD MENTAL SPACE

A rough week at school, some bad news, a fight with a sibling or friend…

Whatever it is, cricketers need to go to sleep the night before and wake up the morning of a game in a good mental space.

The importance of the mental side of the game in cricket is becoming more and more prevalent and more time is being invested into developing that skill in an athlete.

As a parent you can help shift their mindset when you detect something is off, here’s a couple of simple ideas…

TALK IT OUT

Talk out their issues with them, some kids don’t like sharing and discussing so you need to do it in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way.

Getting it off their chest can make a big difference and help them let it go.

Go one step further and see if you can help them find a lesson in it that they can be grateful for.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Get them to write down three things they’re grateful for in their life and then visualise each one vividly for 60 seconds.

Gratitude is proven to actually change the physiology of your brain, i.e. the way in which we function.

Do this right before bed the night before a game and I promise you they’ll wake up in a much better frame of mind having gone to sleep with those thoughts of gratitude at the front of their mind.

DO SOMETHING FUN

Sometimes their negative mindset can be self prescribed by nerves and anxiety about cricket.

Take them out to do something fun that they enjoy the night before a game and get their mind off cricket.

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2. LET THEM KNOW THERE’S NO PRESSURE FROM YOUR END

A lot of parents will never understand how much pressure their child puts on themselves because they want to impress you! Even if you don’t put pressure on them.

You can help with that.

If you are someone that occasionally pulls yourself up after making a pressure loaded comment, make a conscious effort to refrain from them.

Things like “It’s a big game tomorrow”, “You need some runs tomorrow”, “Don’t make the same mistake as last week.” These terms have absolutely no benefit, kids already put enough pressure on themselves without having Mum or Dad add to it.

If you’re someone that doesn’t do that but your child is still visibly affected by nerves and anxiety, let them know that you’re not going to think any more or less of them because they get 100 or a duck.

Have discussions with them and explain there are a lot bigger issues in the world than failing at cricket to help them gain perspective.

Perspective can be a great cure for performance anxiety.

 

3. HELP THEM BE FULLY ENERGISED

Their physical condition plays a vital role in the way they perform and I’m not talking about fitness (that’s important too but not a job for the night before).

Three things that you can help control to make sure they’re ready to go are;

1. SLEEP

Make sure they get enough sleep the night before a game.

If you do take them out, make sure you’re home early enough for them to de-combust and get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

If you’ve got people over, make sure their environment is conducive for sleeping and not too noisy or light.

Sleep has a massive impact on the way your brain operates. Not enough sleep will leave them foggy and making slow decisions. Not what you want on a cricket field.

2.   NUTRITION

I’m not going to go into an in depth nutrition lesson because it’s not my field of expertise.

But I do know that eating correctly plays a vital role in your child’s energy levels.

Make sure they’re eating well the week of, night before and morning of a game.

3.   HYDRATION

A lot of young players leave this too late and start trying to hydrate when it’s too late.

Hydration starts the day before a game. Make sure they’re getting drinking plenty of water the day before and the morning of the game.

Dehydration effects every cell in our body, including our brain.

If you’re a parent who wants to play an active role in preparing your child to perform, that’s a really good platform to start with.

Thanks for reading, I hope you got value out of it and if there’s anything you’ve found works really well with your child I’d love to hear. Shoot me an email at [email protected]

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Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder & Coach

 

 

In our time developing young cricketers around Australia, we’ve come across a lot of different types of players.

Some of them so dedicated, that they'll do anything to gain an edge over their opponent.

Others are there for the pure love of the game, who enjoy nothing more than playing and enjoying it with their mates.

You have certain players that will say all the right stuff, promising to make more of an effort when it comes to training etc. but never quite acting on them. 

There are others, which I’m sure you can resonate with, but the biggest issues we see are players underestimating the importance of the basics, wanting to take the easier option instead.

By no means am I saying that everyone needs to have the same passion and level of determination to make it to the top to play at an elite level.

But there are a lot of habits or key moments in their development that are glossed over.

So let's delve into what I like to call 'Shortcuts' below.   Once these shortcuts become habits, it’s an uphill battle for any young cricketer to get what they want out of their game.

Here are the 5 common shortcuts that I see young cricketers taking;

1. Jumping the Gun

What I mean by this is how players are far too eager to jump to the next level in a particular drill or activity without properly mastering the previous level.

This might be a progression in the skill, turning the pace up in the throwdowns, or even to make their scoring zones smaller.

All of this is done so that they don’t seem like they are ‘Behind’, but what I find with these players is they are actually doing themselves a disservice.

Jumping too far ahead and progressing at a rate that they aren’t ready for will lead to deficiency issues in their technique and overall confidence.

The transfer in their skill does not occur to playing in real-time when under pressure, and they really find themselves developing extremely bad habits.

My Tip: Only look to go up a level in your drills or challenges when you can actually consistently execute the skill. (e.g. 4 or 5 out of 6 in a batting drill).

Many many times, I see players hitting balls off balance, or missing their hitting gates etc. and casually going up to their next set of difficulty or progression.

It’s so important to make sure you are at a level where you can do this consistently so that when you hit the next level of the skill, you can make the relevant improvements.

2. Avoiding Situations You May Not Be Good or Confident In

This area is more about players that neglect to improve or develop a certain area of their game on purpose due to the uncomfortableness of being “bad” at it. This, in turn, leads to the player avoiding it altogether.

For me I see this as another clear shortcut, you need to be able to identify and devote time to and have the mentality of “The only way I am going to get better at this is by getting out of my comfort zone and actually having a crack at it” is so important.

You are doing yourself a disservice by not taking it on and approaching it head-on.

I know this sometimes can be tough to deal with, especially if you are in a group setting, but believe me, no one who judges people for jumping in the deep end and trying to get better is worth the time of day anyway.

And besides, you're not going to be a master at everything straight up!

My Tip: Attack these areas of your game on your own or with someone you trust. Whether that's a coach/mentor, parent or teammate.  Doing these things in a neutral controlled environment will go a long way to you gaining the confidence to improve.  We believe this is where our Academy Programs excel.

3. Underestimating the Small Things

This shortcut is simple but no means small, which again a lot of players dismiss.

The small things I’m talking about are the simple tasks that players don’t think will have an effect on their technical skill.

I often hear them say “That’s not going to make me a better cricketer, how can it!? I’m not even using a bat or a ball”.

But what players fail to realise sometimes is that cricket is much more than hitting, bowling, throwing or catching a ball.

There are other cogs in the machine that make it go around and around.  Your ability to consistently perform your technical side of the game is majorly influenced by these.

I’m talking about tasks like reviewing performances and planning out a way forward based on your struggles.

It’s also about engaging in open-ended conversations (like identifying stages of the game or putting yourself through 'in-game' scenarios in the nets). These conversations with players, influential mentors or coaches can open up a whole new perspective on the game that you might have been otherwise blinded to.

I can recall a conversation all too clearly of a time with an established state and international cricketer about bowling a touch fuller for my stock delivery. To be honest, something now that I look back on that I neglected over the years were people trying to speak to me about this and always questioning why the batter doesn’t knick it instead of playing and missing, or feeling like I’m the victim when my spot was on the chopping board.

Taking shortcuts after training, being quick to pack my gear up, laugh off a conversation or simply not even taking an opportunity to speak about it to other influential players had robbed me of success for many seasons.

The point is, is not to be blind to these tasks or conversations.  My job and reason for writing this is to open your perspective on it and understand that these are important traits that the very good players we coach have.

My Tip: Take a more holistic approach, start to listen to senior players more often, find a process that effectively reviews your performance and work on focusing on that at your next training session.

4. Getting Bored or Chasing the Next Shiny Object

The next shortcut is best described as getting bored with the basics, following the next shiny object.

Many young players are happy with doing the necessary simple tasks.  Sometimes though there tends to be the need to reinvent the wheel with the thought process of, if it looks fancy it must mean you’ll get more benefit out of it!

Nick wrote a whole article on this and I suggest if you haven’t read it yet go do so! It can be found here

But the brunt of it is we see players gloss over the basics. The nitty-gritty parts of the game that make you a much, much better cricketer.

Simple remedial drills are fundamental, spending time nailing how to play as straight as possible or the 80/20 rule (80% fundamentals, 20% funky stuff). These are examples of the “boring tasks” that are neglected after being done once.

After spending time watching how elite cricketers prepare over the years first hand, I can tell you those players aren’t tossing these to the side.

For them they are the most important parts of their game, they are the rudder, steering the ship and making sure their game is at a level high enough that they can deal with the pressure to perform and adapt to the game no matter what the situation is.

Your success in the game is down to performing the skill consistently over periods (games/years) of time.

My Tip: Don’t neglect these tasks, you won't have to spend as much time on them as you get better, but don’t feel that you have to be doing only the hard stuff to challenge yourself. Use them as a warm-up into your session, do a few reps, but never ever neglect them or gloss over them. 

5. Doing the Fun Stuff Over the Important Stuff

Don’t get sucked in by your peers.

This shortcut is a common occurrence we hear from parents when we speak to them about prospective academy members.  We hear that the better or more committed players become frustrated at club training due to the lack of drive or passion in the group.

Mucking around, wrestling, throwing the grass in the air rather than actually contributing to providing value to their training partner.

By no means am I saying you can’t have fun, but choosing to engage in these sorts of activities while at training obviously can have an adverse effect on your game.

Training still needs to be fun, but the best players in their age groups are the ones who truly have the passion to get better and are not easily sucked into being distracted by activities that they don’t see benefiting their cricket.

You often find yourself at training for an hour, in reality, it's not a lot of time. Make sure that what you are doing is of benefit and that you are showing respect to players with your time by giving them a quality training environment.

My Tip: Always ask yourself how is this going to make me better? Make a choice before you get involved in it. If the answer is no, quickly find a way you can get a positive out of it.

All in all, as I mentioned at the start, there are many different types of players who play the game for different reasons…

And that’s great! But when I hear people saying the words, "I want to get better", or "Why am I not getting opportunities" etc., the first thing I’d be asking myself is how hard have they worked for it?

Hard work doesn’t mean busting yourself to the point of exhaustion, it’s about making sure you’ve given yourself every opportunity to get better at that one time and have not taken any shortcuts in getting there.

You are the driver of your own destiny, but it’s important to have an environment that supports that. Our Academy Program's are just that, if you feel you are looking for a group of like-minded players with coaches who can create an environment to nurture these habits then I seriously suggest you look into it.

As always good luck and hopefully you’ve enjoyed this article 🙂

 

Written by - Joel Hamilton ACI Co Founder 

We all love watching cricket right?

Some like watching all forms, some like watching certain forms over others.

Most people view watching cricket as a form of entertainment in their down time, but what if we could turn watching cricket into a valuable learning tool to improve our own cricket?

Well, maybe you can…

I think the first port of call is to actually be present and conscious of what you’re watching. That means your focus and attention needs to be on that and nothing else (the same as when you want to learn or get better at anything).

Here’s five ways you can improve your own game by watching cricket (live or on TV).

1. PREDICT WHAT THE CAPTAIN WILL DO

A great way to learn is to put yourself in the shoes of the best.

What would Paine do? What would Williamson do? What would Kohli do? What would Root do?

When you’re watching cricket see if you can predict what bowler the captain will bring on, when they will bring them on, when they’ll make a change, when they’ll declare, when they’ll go from pace to spin or vice versa.

You’ll get instant feedback on wether you’re thinking the same as them and start to absorb their way of thinking.

Also ask yourself why you think they did or didn’t do it.

You can even turn this into a little game and write your predictions down and keep score. Challenge a mate or family member to play along with you.

2. PREDICT WHAT THE BATSMEN/BOWLERS WILL DO

Watch the batters and bowlers in action closely.

See If you can pick up on their strengths and plans and then predict what they’re going to do next over or even next ball.

Predict what type of ball the bowler will bowl or what shot the batsman will play.

This can be a bit easier in shorter form cricket when there’s a bit more action and plans can change quickly.

It’s doable in test cricket - plans just tend to go for longer periods.

Doing this will make you much more aware and you’ll be learning how elite players go about it.

Again you can turn this into a little competition.

 

3. TAKE NOTICE OF AND REVIEW PLANS

Every time a bowler finishes a spell or a batter gets out, see if you can summarise their plan and review whether it worked or not.

It doesn’t have to be a novel, an example would be something like this;

“David Warner’s plan was to pounce on width outside off and shorter balls. He looked hesitant to drive unless the ball was very full and was looking to score when the bowler erred in length or got too straight. He was leaving as many balls as possible in the corridor. The plan was working well, he was scoring freely but lost his wicket when he went away form his plan and tried to drive a ball that wasn’t quite there.”

You can do the same for bowlers based on their lengths, lines and field settings.

We've got some great resources and training videos in our online academy - another great way to improve your game without going to the nets. You can learn more about it and grab a free trial by clicking the image below.

 

 

4. LOOK AT FIELDS AND ASK WHY?

It can be a bit harder on TV because you can’t see the full picture sometimes but do your best. It’s a good exercise for when you’re watching live.

Analyse every single field that is set at the start of the over and ask why?

Why is there a fielder there? Why have they not got a fielder there? Where are they looking to exploit this batter?

Consistently doing this is going to train your brain to be able to problem solve and develop plans out in the middle.

5. TAKE NOTES

Whenever you’re doing the above four, take notes!

Two reasons…

  • The act of writing something down with pen and paper has been proven to increase retention. Meaning you’re going to learn and remember more.
  • If you do it for a whole summer you’re going to have an awesome little playbook of lessons and learnings from elite players - gold!

All pretty simple stuff but the purpose behind all five activities is to increase your engagement and awareness of what’s going on. The simple act of that alone will improve your game.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder & Coach

As a player, the period between 10 to 15 years old is a critical time in a young cricketer’s development.

The skills, techniques, beliefs and habits they develop now are the ones they’re going to carry into the rest of their career and life.

Most children dream of playing for their country, unfortunately that realisation won’t come through for most, and parents understand that (that’s not to say they shouldn’t have that as a dream…I’d actually be surprised if most players didn’t).

What every parent I speak to really wants for their child is to give them the best opportunity to reach THEIR ceiling and fulfil their potential, whatever that may be for them, and to contribute at whatever level they're playing at so they enjoy the game they love.

And that’s our job as coaches, to help players reach their ceiling...

...to ensure they’re getting the right coaching and advice, and that they’re in the right environment to maximise their development.

Here are three things that we’ve identified with the way most juniors train, that may be holding your child back from developing and reaching their full potential.

Preface: This might seem like I’m having a go at volunteer coaches, I’m not. I think volunteers are absolute saints and do a great job. Junior cricket would not operate without them. Most are thrown in the deep end because there’s no-one else. The three points I’m going to touch on are just results of circumstance and moulded into the way we traditionally train (even in senior cricket).

 

1. NO PLAN OR PURPOSE TO TRAINING

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

Team rolls up to the nets for 60-90 minutes, each player bats for 10 minutes in the nets (has a slog at the end), 4-5 bowlers per net, team leaves nets once everyone has had a bat (sometimes not even everyone).

There’s no real plan or purpose, no thought about the situation of the game or where the field is and no specific skill development.

If you want to develop specific skills (like playing a cut shot or bowling a bouncer) you have to isolate that skill and do it hundreds of times over and over, not execute it twice a week in your weekly net session.

That’s why dedicating part of your training session to drill work and specific skill development is important and something we do in all our academy programs.

It’s also important to create an environment in the nets that’s as close to a match situation as possible (you’ll obviously never get it the same).

When a player is out there on a Saturday there’s scoreboard pressure and the pressure of having to hit gaps in the field.

The way traditional net sessions are run, creates players that feel great in the nets (when there’s no scoreboard pressure and they can hit the ball anywhere) but can’t transfer that form out into the middle on a Saturday.

That’s why in every net session we run at our academies, coaches give the players scenarios and get the bowling group to set fields.

 

2. ONE DIMENSIONAL IMPROVEMENT

What I mean by one dimensional improvement or training is that most players just focus on their skills and technique.

If your child is playing for fun and isn’t serious about their cricket (which is totally cool by the way), that type of training is completely fine.

But if they’re serious about their cricket and want to go as far as they can, they need to start looking at their development in a holistic way and understand that things like physical preparation, mental skills and tactical awareness are just as important as their skill and technique.

Physical preparation includes things like the way they warm up, the strength and conditioning they do and the things they eat and drink to fuel their body at different stages (mid-week, pre-game, during the game and post-game).

Mental skills are so important in cricket (it’s the main thing holding most players back). Cricket is such a different sport to say - footy, soccer, basketball which are all fast paced and reactive.

In cricket we have a set amount of down time in between balls and a lot of young players use that time negatively. At the ACI, we teach players tools and techniques to use that time in between balls more positively.

Tactics and game awareness is probably the slowest thing to develop because you need to play a lot of cricket to develop that side of your game.

We can fast track it though, by using scenario based net sessions, setting fields and encouraging open conversations with coaches before and after the scenario.

Technical development, physical preparation, mental skills and game awareness are like cogs in a machine. If one stops working so does the machine.

 

3. LACK OF INDIVIDUAL FEEDBACK DUE TO LARGE NUMBERS

This one is purely a result of circumstance.

Like I said earlier, most junior coaches are thrown in the deep end knowing full well they don’t have the coaching/playing experience to provide a high level of individual feedback.

They’re also often given large numbers to deal with, 11-15 players in a squad and one coach to look after them.

The result of that is the coach turns into more of a manager; organising who is batting when and in what net and where each bowler should be.

It’s near impossible to provide quality individual feedback when you’re working with those numbers and have limited facilities available.

That is one thing we’re very conscious of in our academy programs, keeping the groups manageable and having enough coaches to allow players plenty of time on task and individual feedback.

 

HOW CAN WE HELP?

If your child is passionate about cricket, trying to become the best they can, and you feel like any of the above circumstances are holding them back from developing and reaching their ceiling, we’d love to chat to you about how we can help develop their game.

 

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

Australian Cricket Institute Co-Founder & Coach

Making mistakes and failing at sport, or anything in life for that matter, is not enjoyable. It can cause a lot of negative emotions and reactions, particularly in young athletes.

As you grow older and gain more experience you realise that mistakes and failure are not only ok but they’re critical cogs in the wheel towards developing and improving as a person and athlete.

If we learn from them that is.

As a coach or parent, the best thing you can do after letting the dust settle is to help your child/player learn from their mistakes by asking great questions and getting them to engage in positive conversation.

Here’s 5 questions you can ask your child or a player you coach to help them learn from their mistakes…

1. Was it an Execution Error or a Mental Error?

Helping them to understand whether it was their execution or mindset/decision making that let them down is the first step because then they’ll be clearer on what they need to work on so it doesn’t happen again.

Execution error example: Knicking a half volley trying to play a cover drive to a ball that is not swinging and it was the right time to play that shot.. They have made the right decision but simply made an error in their execution of the shot - meaning they need to get more volume in and practice the shot correctly.

Mental error example: They have tried to play a cover drive to a good length ball swinging away because they had faced a lot of dot balls and the pressure was building - meaning the pressure got to them and they tried to manufacture a shot, they need to work on mental application and the ability to get through spells of good bowling.

 

2. Put Yourself Back in The Situation - What Thoughts Were Going Through Your Mind?

It’s a great practice to do this as soon as they can so that it’s fresh in their mind.

The aim here is to help them gain self awareness about what their self talk is like and understand what’s going through their head when they do well and what’s through their head when they make mistakes - identifying the self talk they need to avoid.

3. Was The (skill error) Something That is Within Your Plans/Strengths?

We’re really big on encouraging players to develop plans around their strengths and stick to their strengths on game day.

Players don’t need to be able to play every shot or bowl every type of delivery in the book.

They need to understand what they do well and base their game around that.

So helping them identify whether their mistake was within their plans is really important.

If it was, great - it might have just been an execution error.

If it wasn’t - that’s a mental error. “What can I put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen or rarely happens again?”

 

4. If You Were in The Situation Again, Would You Make The Same Decision or Do Something Differently?

If it was simply an execution error then the answer to this is probably “Yes, I would do the same thing again.”

If it’s a mental or decision making error it’s about getting them to look at it from different angles and say…

“Ok, what could I have done there to get a better result?”

“What could I have done differently?”

All part of the learning process for young players on the journey towards a deep understanding of their own game.

5. Aside From Not Getting The Result You Wanted, What Did You Do Really Well Today?

Ok we’ve directed the mistake, we’ve identified where the error was, we’ve learnt from it and we’ve made a plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Now let's shine the torch on the positives.

Most of the time players will have done SOMETHING positive during the day/game and we need to identify those things because that’s what we want them doing more of moving forward.

Encourage them to say “How can I bring more of that into my game?”

If you work through those five questions and encourage conversation around them with your child or a player you coach, it’s going to turn a mistake or failure into a really positive learning experience.

If you'd like to have a chat to our team about how we can help your child develop their skills and confidence next season, pop your name on the 'early bird' list for our 2019/20 programs and we'll have a 30 minute phone call with you to really understand where they're at and what they need to improve on...

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Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - Australian Cricket Institute Co-Founder & Coach