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.

 

1. YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE

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. 

2. BOWLING TO PLANS - MATCHING THE BRAIN WITH THE BRAWN

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. 

3. EMBRACING CHALLENGES - WANT THE BALL

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. 

4. PREPARING TO PERFORM - TRAIN WITH PURPOSE

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

I’ve always been fascinated by the way people are so quick to discourage their abilities and automatically neglect the important elements of their game outside the technical side of cricket.

I see and hear so many cricketers talk the talk, “I want to play at this level” or “I’m going to have a big pre-season”, but when it comes to the crunch with another year completed and no changes made, the player wonders why they’re not getting what they want out of their game.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with many professional cricketers, either in work, play or friendships, and have seen the amount of time, blood, sweat, and tears that goes into their development to ensure that they give themselves every possible chance they can to make it at the top level.

I’m sure you’ve read all the quotes and memes plastered all over the internet that relate to excellence, performance, etc. They’re great but get kind of old when you see or hear them repeatedly and no real action gets taken from them.

Below, I’ve plucked out what I see as the '5 most powerful traits of professional cricketers' and how anyone can adopt them. If you do, I can tell you right now, your game is going to improve and funnily enough, it’s nothing to do with the skills of cricket!

Players need to realise that just because you aren’t at that elite level doesn’t mean you can’t adopt these traits and hold yourself accountable to them. This alone is a major reason why elite players have gotten to the level they have, and very likely that if you adopt these traits, you too will start to see a massive improvement in your game.

 

1. COMMITMENT

An easy one to start off with but very hard for many to follow through on. The best cricketers aren’t flaking on a session, they are getting up when their alarm goes off to had to their early morning gym session/run/pilates. The better players are forgoing that burger and soft drink or going out to a party the night before their game/training. They do this because they have made a commitment to get better and perform to their best and this is one of the very easiest and earliest traits to control. It’s a matter of choice!

 

2. ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Elite cricketers have great attention to detail.  Whether it be in their training, their preparation, reviewing with their coaches, or general routine. Just simply showing up and doing it to tick the box isn’t going to change a thing. As a cricketer striving to get better, really try to pay attention to how you do things and the level at which you do them.

 

3. SELF BELIEF

The best players have a belief that their best is good enough. Don’t get me wrong, they still suffer from performance anxiety or negative self-talk from time to time, but an overarching belief in their own game and confidence to perform is a very important factor in producing a high level of performance consistently. Some of this comes down to preparation. The more prepared players are before the big day, the more confident they'll be at achieving their goals on game day.

 

4. BE ANALYTICAL

Not all players are great when it comes to analysing their own game. I guarantee you that every player who at least tries to see what has gone well and what hasn’t will improve going forward. No player of quality who performs at a high level on a consistent basis packs their gear up, gets in the car, and doesn’t think about what they’ve done ever again. Having a structured review process provides players the ability to identify areas of strength, where they may have gone wrong, and what needs to happen to prepare for next week. It also helps their mental state if they have had a bad day and gives them a chance to close that chapter quickly without stewing over it for the week. Instead, they move on quickly, ready for that next chance to progress.

 

5. OWNERSHIP & MATURITY

Probably one of the toughest ones I see players being able to grasp. This is a genuine, look yourself in the mirror component and stop blaming others for non-selection / lack of success, etc. It's important to own your actions, be accountable, and mature about how you react to certain situations that don’t go your way.  Use it as a learning curve. The best players in the world are honest with themselves and don’t point fingers. You can easily do this too and once you do, don’t be surprised to see some serious growth and who knows, maybe some line calls going your way as well!

 

All in all, I think the biggest advice that I would give to players (and I have numerous times) is just because you aren’t a professional/elite cricketer doesn’t mean you can’t think, train and prepare like one. If you are improving your standards, then the only way is up!

 

 

Joel Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

Article Author: Joel Hamilton

ACI Owner & Managing Director 

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW"

 

This quote is the basis for this week's blog, written by ACI Coach Josh Matthews. One of his favourite quotes, it epitomises what he believes in as a person, cricket player & coach. 

 

It determines that to reach your potential as a player and person, you must first understand that you simply do NOT know everything, and your ability to take in information and process it will have a huge impact on how close you get to maximising this potential.

It is so easy to get caught in the trap of “I know what’s best and what works”, however through my personal experience, I can honestly tell you that this is very rarely the case. A personal example for me would be the way in which I coach a certain technique - let’s go with my most recent example, throwing at the stumps. I have always taught players that their throwing arm should be extended back almost as far as they could go, I was certain this was the best way. Why was I certain? Because I didn’t know what I didn’t know! It only occurred to me that there was a better way through the knowledge & wisdom of a coach more experienced than me physically showing me and taking me through the reasoning for this… Once I was shown a more effective way, it was an instant reminder that I must always continue to learn as there is so much information out there that I am unaware of. 

 

LISTENING TO VARYING OPINIONS

As a player your ability to execute a skill or read a certain situation comes down to your abilities & knowledge of the game. What is exciting for you, is that both of these skills can be developed through listening to others' wisdom. 

Wisdom definition: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

If you are wanting to play your best cricket, then it is crucial you take advice from people who know more than you do. An example of this would be the way in which you are executing a certain drill, a cover drive for instance. There are 100’s of different theories on how you SHOULD play a cover drive, however, at the end of the day, there is no singular answer for what is the BEST technique. The best players in the world have the ability to LISTEN to varying opinions and is what separates them from the rest. Additionally, an effective listener will generally be more effective at determining what does and doesn’t work for them. 

 

DECIDE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU

The beauty of listening to varying opinions is you now have the ability to dissect each option and work out for yourself what works for you. As previously mentioned, different things work for different people, however, if you are willing to acknowledge and interpret varying opinions, you will be in the best position to make the correct one. 

Are you always going to get it right? NO! It’s not quite that easy, however as is the case with playing in the V, increasing your chance of succeeding is always attractive. 

Another important concept to remember is that you are always evolving and developing, and with these changes come different ways in which to do things. However, if you have listened well in the past, you just never know when someone's theories or thoughts might suddenly click for you. 

 

HINT: Always strive to have a GROWTH MINDSET. You can learn more about the differences in Fixed & Growth Mindsets here: https://fs.blog/2015/03/carol-dweck-mindset/

 

HOW TO IDENTIFY WISDOM

You might be asking yourself, well how do I know who to listen to? There are a number of varying factors that determine who may have some information useful to you. Some of these are, but are not limited to: 

  • Age of the person 
  • Experience of the person 
  • The expertise of the person 
  • Respect you have for that person 

These are some very generic qualities of people who you should listen to. My personal opinion and experience would suggest that you should listen to all opinions and thoughts, as you will take in different pieces of information which will help shape the way you think. 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are always going to be people out there who know more than you do, and your ability to understand and use that to your advantage is what will separate you from other players. You do not know what you do not know - the faster you can begin to learn what you do not know, the faster you will begin to grow as a player and a person. 

Take this advice and use it in all parts of your life including school, friendships, sports & family… hopefully, it will serve you well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article Author: Josh Matthews

ACI Coach

Below, guest blogger and ACI Coach, Josh Nevett gives us his top tips to identify your cricketing strengths.

In cricket, the difference between good and great players is often in the mental and strategic side of the game rather than raw skill-set or physicality. Players who have a small set of strengths that they actively utilise as often as possible generally succeed over players with a wide range of skills but no understanding of how best to use them. This article will recommend practices that can be used to identify strengths so that you are able to develop your own unique cricketing identity with complete confidence in your personal skills and strategies.

 

SEEK FEEDBACK FROM COACH / EXPERIENCED PLAYERS

Often we can look at our own cricketing skill-sets with a perspective that is biased and warped, preventing us from achieving honest and objective self-analysis. This can be due to a variety of reasons, but the main impact is that we either underestimate or overestimate our abilities in certain facets of cricket. You may think that you don't play the ball well off the back foot, but perhaps this is just due to a recent dismissal you’re lingering on, poor shot selection, or a lack of practice in training. So, the question remains, how do we solve this problem and gain an accurate understanding of our strengths?

One remedy is to seek the opinions of those who are less likely to be influenced by factors that may make our judgments unreliable; your coaches and the senior players around you. These individuals will be invested in making you a better cricketer and realise that honesty is the best policy in pursuit of this. As a result, they will assist you to quickly and accurately identify strength areas through observation of your performances and discussion with you. Experience is invaluable throughout this process, as coaches have likely identified your strengths in other players in the past. 

REVIEW YOUR PERFORMANCE AFTER GAMES & TRAINING TO FIND PATTERNS

As alluded to above, one well-played shot or perfect delivery may not signal an overall strength, but a pattern of successful skill execution over time is definitely a strong indicator of a personal strength. The best way to distinguish between these two things is to engage in an ongoing process of performance review, noting what skills you performed well and didn’t perform well after both matches and training matches. As a bowler, did you have success swinging the ball one way or another? Which balls did the batter struggle most to play? With the bat, where did you score the majority of your runs? Which bowlers did you feel most comfortable facing?

By addressing these questions on a regular basis and physically logging down your reflections, over time patterns will hopefully emerge that reveal to you your most strong areas. Similar to the recommendation above, feel free to engage others you trust in this process. 

FILM YOUR SESSIONS TO FIND AREAS THAT YOU DO WELL

The process of reflection and analysis is made a whole lot easier by access to video footage. Filming your sessions will allow you to support some assumptions about your strengths whilst also challenging others, providing a useful resource for future comparison and ongoing feedback. 

You may know that you flick the ball well through the legside on the front foot, but watching back video of a training session may reveal that you take balls from the off stump and wider through the legside, enhancing your knowledge of your strength. Or, on the bowling side, analysis of footage might show that you get your wrist in an excellent position to bowl inswing, but until now you hadn't considered that as a regular strategy. 

Video footage goes a long way towards accounting for the 5-10% of uncertainty you have about the conclusions that you and your coaches have come to, it provides clear evidence of the highlights and shortcomings of your game. 

MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE THINGS YOU DO WELL TO CREATE YOUR STRENGTHS

Sometimes, even after persistent analysis and reflection, the areas you perform well in may seem disjointed and not form cohesive strengths. In this situation, it is best to write down all of the individual skills that you execute well and then try to link them together into strength areas. 

For example, you might decide that you use your feet well and have strong shot selection against spin. These two skills can be joined to create the strength ‘getting to the pitch of spin bowling’. As a bowler, if you bowl both slower balls and yorkers very well, then you are likely to excel at bowling in the death overs of limited-overs matches. In the field, if you have a strong distance throwing arm and are comfortable under high catches then outfielding is likely to be a strength area.

As you can see from the examples above, it becomes a much easier process to identify strengths when all of your skills are set out in front of you. 

 

Article Author: Josh Nevett

ACI Academy Coach