Pat Cummins has had a huge 12 months which has resulted in him becoming one of, if not Australia’s most popular player among fans and winning the Allan Border Medal.

Aside from the obvious - bowling fast, taking wickets and scoring valuable lower order runs, I thought I’d take a look at some of the reasons he’s adored by fans and the traits that you’d do well in adopting from the star quick…

1. He's Adaptable

No doubt Cummins would probably love the new ball. He bowls with it for NSW and Thunder.

But he’s been given a job to do with Australia, coming on first change, and he’s adapted to it brilliantly.

He bowls from any end and bowls whenever he’s given the ball. He doesn’t whinge or complain. He gets on with it and does his job.

Become Adaptable.

2. He Gives 100% One Hundred Percent Of The Time

Pat Cummins runs in and bowls at 100% - all the time.

He bowls the same pace in his last spell as he does in his first which isn’t always common in fast bowlers.

He puts a huge price on his wicket for a number 8 batsman and tries to bat for as long as he can, no matter how hostile the bowling is.

Every time Cummins has the bat or ball in his hands it looks like he’s playing to win or save the game, no matter what situation Australia are in.

You should strive to do the same.

 

3. He’s a Fierce Competitor

Pat Cummins competes hard.

There were some times during the recent test series where Australia were no hope of winning or saving the game and he was batting against some pretty hostile bowling on lively decks. Cummins scrapped for long periods of time, when a lot of other fast bowlers would have had a swing to get out of there as fast as they could.

On the flip side - when he’s on song and Australia are on top, he puts his foot on the oppositions throat which we saw with some devastating spells of fast bowling and it was great to see him get some bags of wickets.

When the competition is even and the wicket is flat - he seems to more often than not force something to happen.

Learn to compete like Cummins.

4. He’s Humble

I think another reason Cummins is so likeable is because he’s humble.

As I said earlier, he never complains or whinges about bowling first change or where he bats.

He never boasts about how good he is or how he’s going to do this and that.

He gets on with it, lets the bat and ball do the talking and gracefully accepts any accolades that come his way.

Be humble.

5. The Way He Carries Himself Off The Field

I don’t know Pat personally but from the outside it looks like he’s got his life and priorities in order.

He’s in a long term relationship with a partner he seems to treat with love and respect. He seems to have a good set of values and morals and he’s never in the media for poor behaviour or any of the wrong reasons.

I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say a bad word about him!

If you model your off field behaviour on Cummins, you’ll position yourself well.

Now, go work at applying these five traits to your game and life.

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

 

 

The time used between balls by many players is not used very effectively by many players.

Cricketers come to the Australian Cricket Institute with a common problem. “ I get bogged down after a few balls and then play a silly shot and get out” or “ I have trouble bowling the ball where I want to consistently”.

For some, and to the naked eye, that’s a technical deficiency, which most likely is a contributing factor.

However the other side of it that hardly any people explore or consider is what is going on between their ears.

Cricket is a game of stop, start, hit a ball, stop and have some down time then only to be going back to getting ready to hit the ball again.

In this down time, most players use their time negatively or not at all. Your ability to be consistent and achieve the desired outcome over and over again is technical yes, but the time you spend in between balls is just as crucial.

Using this time well can help with staying in the moment. Thinking about what you need to do right now.

Too many players think about what has happened or what is going to happen. e.g. “ What if I play and miss again” or “I just bowled a wide, don’t bowl another!”.

If you can overcome your mind and use this time effectively the benefits are there to see.

Your concentration levels last longer, you make better decisions, you are not affected by the situation of the game as much and as a result you can make clearer decisions.

Below I’ve listed out 5 different things you can implement into your between ball routine that can help you from drifting away and putting pressure on yourself.

1. Positive Self Talk

A very simple one to start off with but sometimes quiet hard to master.

The important think with this is to realise that you are always going to have negative thoughts or reactions when you do something wrong or under pressure.

The important part is trying to wipe that as quickly as possible and turn those thoughts into a positive.

This can be practiced and done on any occurrence.

Instead of thinking “this bowlers too fast here, I don’t want to get hurt!” You could go down the path of “his pace is going to make it easier if I use that to my advantage, wait for the full overmatched ball but the rest I can use the pace and run it down to third man”.

2. Quick And Non Bias Self Review/Reflection

A lot of players spend so much time in between balls sweating about what shot they’ve played.

How many times have you seen a player hit it straight to a fielder and drop their head back in annoyance?

Or keep playing the same shot that they wanted to for the whole time between balls and then face back up?

I’m not saying you can’t practice the shot you wanted to play, but a lot of people spend too much time worrying and sweating on that ball and what they did wrong.

What you can do is really simply review and reflect on your shot and move on to something else as quickly as possible.

It could be as simple as a rating out of 10 and then what you’d do differently.

Short. Sharp. And finally,  wiped clean so you don’t spend the next minutes or balls thinking about it.

 

3. Breathing

This is a relatively simple one.

It’s been proven that when you are under pressure or stress, your heart rate will go up.

The easiest way to lower that is by controlled breathing.

If you can actually focus on your breathing you’ll find that not only will it help you get your breath back and decrease your heart rate, but it will also then take your focus away from the game and other thoughts!

Try in for 5 or 6 and out for 7 or 8.

Allocating some time between balls to do this will help you get your levels back to even and you’ll be able to make better decisions.

4. Anchors to Distract You Away From The Pressure

Many elite players use certain actions or sequences of movements to help them switch off or take themselves away from an uncomfortable environment.

These pressures and distractions can look like the 'yappy' annoying slips cordon, concentrating on certain parts of the environment, scoreboard pressure and of course those negative thoughts we spoke about previously.

By having certain actions that take you outside of the situation, this helps you clear your mind and use that down time in a different way not thinking about those above pressure.

Some of these look like:

  • Walking out to square leg
  • Signing a song between balls
  • Staring out of the field of play and switching off from the contest
  • Watching people out on the boundary or those not involved in the game
  • Undoing gloves

As mentioned these “anchors” or whatever you want to call them, help players take them self outside of the contest and the stresses.

I’m sure you may even do some of these already.

5. Visualisation

Finally another tool you can look to use is visualisation.

This is a very underestimated and yet quite an effective way to help players feel confident and problem solve during their time on the pitch.

The power of visualisation is quite influential.

Visualisation during your innings or while your bowling can help you settle yourself into your role or give you the confidence to replicate during your innings.

Using some of your time in between balls to see yourself playing that correct shot or bowling that ball in the right area.

When visualising, go deep into it. How does it feel, what does it look like, what does your body have to do in order to execute that shot or particular ball.

The more you can replicate how real it is and the exact movements the more realistic it is and will transfer into your mechanics of what you are doing.

It may be you visualising playing the ball confidently, or getting into a powerful and balanced position when playing your shots. Alternatively from the bowling perspective, it may be you coming and bowling a great length ball hitting the batsmen bat high on the splice as they are coming forward.

You can play out any scenario in your head before you’ve done it and it will fill you with the confidence to execute this in real time.

So there you have it, these are some techniques you can implement into the time you spend in between balls.

My advice is not to just copy and do all of them, find a sequence of events that is comfortable to you, but more importantly works.

The whole point of this is to use your time effectively in between balls and take your thoughts away from the negative things and elevate the pressure that players put on themselves.

How you do this is ultimately up to you, these are just some techniques you can implement.

Lastly, this between ball routine has to be repeatable. You cannot achieve consistent results if you continuously randomly do these actions.

It is a method to doing them and there has to be a distinct reason in your routine as to why.

These processes are for you only and as a result can be done however you like in your own way.

Don’t copy Steve Smith or David Warner just because he is a world class player as these will not necessarily work for you.

 

Author: Joel Hamilton - ACI Co-Founder & Coach

 

 

I’ve been very lucky.

My parents chose to put me into structured sports and as a result I think I’ve learnt a lot of key skill sets that help me not only with social life, but work and business life as well.

I’m not saying that this is just in cricket, however that is my medium of communication today.

Cricket is a different game, a silly game to many.

Spending a lot of your time preparing and practicing only to get a small go at it each weekend.

There are many important skills that I feel you find and develop from the uniqueness of cricket (and other sports) that really set people up for success.

You hear it quite often that many CEOs or high performing people have either come from an elite sport or military background.

This doesn’t surprise me one bit.

I’ve compiled the 5 key skills that your child will learn playing the game we love, which will ultimately help them for the rest of their life.

1. Deal With Failure

It may sound weird but I think one of the best parts of playing cricket is how well you get used to dealing with failure.

I mean, how often to most players go out and score 50 plus runs? Or take 5 wickets in a game.

There are very few sports that give you one go at something and if you don’t do it right, you sit out for most of the day!

I think understanding the relationship that players have with failure, and overcoming that fear ultimately contributes to more consistent performances.

Transfer that into real life, or work and school and this gives people greater confidence and an understanding that failure is okay, it’s just doing the same thing badly all the time isn’t going to get you anywhere.

2. Ability to Handle Feedback

Being involved with coaches, playing in a team sport and learning constantly, you will encounter many of these people giving you feedback.

Some good, some bad.

The one thing in cricket that I think really helps with players outside of their game is how they can handle it.

Of course, many players don’t deal with it well, but the majority have at least been playing the game have had to dissect and receive negative feedback before.

This can be a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, but I find being involved in teams and constantly reviewing their games, techniques and performances, you find that players seem to be a little bit better at taking it and trying to find ways to make them better.

3. Setting & Achieving Goals

Another crucial aspect that we rely heavily on in our academy programs is having players set, reflect and more often than not achieve goals.

Engraining these thoughts and habits into younger players at an earlier age only bodes well for their schooling and other interests.

It’s teaching this skill effectively and just having them being aware that small improvements over time result in greater outcomes in the end. It’s called the compound effect.

I’ve been amazed at how such a simple skill isn’t necessarily common practice to many people who haven’t been exposed to it and I think it’s just a natural thing that players do in our game.

Even subconsciously.

4. Working in a Team With Different Personalities

Not everyone you play cricket with are going to be your best mates…

Actually you’ll find over time that you will encounter quite an eclectic bunch of people.

Our great sport draws many types to the game we all love!

But somehow when you have to all come together with a common goal or purpose stuff like that doesn’t matter.

I think this is a very key ingredient to team sports.

Having the ability to work in with such different types of people, but coming together and trying to achieve the same task or result.

This skill in itself is invaluable. Be it in the work place, in the school yard or just socially in general.

Being introduced to this through the medium of sport makes their life a whole lot easier on the outside.

5. Accountability For Actions

Being accountable for your actions is sometimes a throw away phrase.

But for people who have been in team environments, especially one like cricket you see there is merit in it.

Having that awareness to stick to your role within that team and not steer away from that.

Choosing to work within the team structure and knowing that if you make a mistake or do something away from your strengths and it doesn’t work, the group will pay the price, not just you.

A lot of these skills and traits develop subconsciously, and as I mentioned earlier, aren’t necessarily just native to playing cricket.

But what I have noticed over time is the bond and lessons that I have learnt on the fields, are very, very similar to life so far.

Sometimes not necessarily fair, or something that you want to do, but at the same time something that needs to be done in order to be effective and win.

So on that note, if you are a parent or coach I thank you.

The kids or your players may not think it yet, or may not even come to realise it at all over their time, but you have done them a massive service in life by having them involved in a team sport such as cricket.

Written by Joel Hamilton Co Founder ACI

One of the really tough things about being a coach is seeing and dealing with the sadness and disappointment of your players when they fail, especially knowing how hard they’ve worked and how much it means to them.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a parent myself yet, but I’m sure that feeling must be magnified when it’s your own child.

A lot of parents I speak to have said they feel helpless in the situation, so my aim here is to give you some simple things you can do to help them not only feel better and get back into a positive mindset but also learn from it.

 

PERSPECTIVE

I think the first thing to do is to put the game and their failure into perspective.

Help them to understand that while yes, the game is important to them, there are so many worse things and people in worse situations around them.

There are people who have to walk miles everyday just to get clean water.

There are people that don’t have food.

People who are missing basic necessities to live and have crime going on all around them.

This is something I try to be conscious of all the time, especially when I’m getting upset about cricket or any other effectively trivial things and it really helps.

A quick dose of perspective really helps you realise getting out for a golden duck  really isn’t that bad.

Once they understand this, any time they get in a funk in the future you can just look at them, point your finger, raise your eyebrows, smirk and say “perspective” Haha.

POSITIVITY & SUPPORT

One of the best things you can do is remain in a positive mood and give them love and support.

Of course you want them to succeed but one of the main reasons they’re upset is because they haven’t impressed you and made you proud.

Their world revolves around that.

I remember when I was a young tacker, all I wanted to do was score runs and take wickets so I could go home and tell Mum and Dad.

If you show disappointment or even worse anger - it’s going to crush them.

Show them that you still think the world of them no matter whether they get 100 or 0 and that’s going to really help improve their mood.

Note: Please don’t confuse this with the ‘everyone’s a winner’ attitude. Kids still need to understand that there are winners and losers, there is success and failure…it’s not an ‘everybody wins’ world.

But they do need to know that you love them and think the same of them regardless of whether they win or lose.

 

LEARNING

Now they’ve calmed down a bit and they’ve established you don’t care whether they win, lose, succeed or fail - now it’s time to help them understand that failure is only failure if they don’t learn from it.

Every single person in the history of sport has and will continue to fail.

Failure is the best teacher.

Help them learn from it by creating positive learning conversations and asking questions.

Here’s a few to start with…

WHAT - did you do well today and what do you need to improve on?

HOW - did you feel out there today and in that situation?

IF - you were in that situation again what, if anything would you do differently?

DISTRACT

Ok, we don’t want to dwell on it for too long!

One of the best things I learnt was to create a life away from cricket and learn how to seperate on field with off field.

Talk about other things with them.

Even better, go and do something fun with them after they’ve had a rough day on the field.

Take them to do something they enjoy away from cricket.

I know some kids live, eat & breathe cricket…if that’s the case maybe introduce them to some other hobbies and activities.

It’ll help them forget about their crappy day and put them in a better mood.

I hope that helps although hopefully they don’t have too many rough days where you have to pull out these stops!

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

ACI Co Founder & Head Coach

 

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 [email protected]).
  • 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