I want to address something that I’m sure is common in every sport but in this case, I’ll talk about its presence in cricket.

It’s the habit of ‘chasing the next shiny object’ (I reckon everyone suffers from it in some area of their life).

What I mean by ‘chasing the next shiny object’ is always wanting to do something new and different.

Getting bored with doing what’s required to get better and what’s required to succeed.

Yes, it’s part of human nature to want to do new and exciting things but as an athlete you need to get comfortable with repetition and doing the ‘boring’ things.

It kind of frustrates me when I hear players, or parents of players say, “Is this session going to be different?”

Yes, us and other coaches are always looking for better ways to improve a player’s game but at the end of the day cricket involves a limited number of skills and you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.

Success often lies in simplicity.

Just because you play a perfect cover drive doesn’t mean you never have to practice the cover drive again.

Just because you bowl a great out swinger doesn’t mean to never have to practice bowling an out swinger on the top of off stump again.

Just because you’re involved in a discussion about batting or bowling plans doesn’t mean you never have to speak or think about plans again.



Cricket, or becoming better at any skill for that matter, is about repetition.

Repeatedly executing the skill so that it becomes autonomous and part of your muscle memory.

You might have heard of the 10,000 hour rule?

“To master a skill, you must practice it for ten thousand hours.”

I’m not sure that’s entirely correct or hard and fast because there are so many variables, like how quickly you learn and the quality of your environment and training

But I do know that to get really good at something and execute it consistently at a high level, you need to practice it a lot and practice it well.

So, unless you can hit a cone with a straight drive 20 times in a row from 15 meters away, don’t tell me you’re ‘bored of hitting underarms.”

Or unless you can rip the 20cm x 20cm target off the top of off stump 36 times in a row, don’t tell me you’re bored of target bowling.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a young player or someone coaching/parenting a young player.

Understand that becoming a quality cricketer is a process and it takes time.

You don’t need to be able to execute every skill and know everything there is to know about the game in your first few years playing.


Like I said, I think you can accelerate that 10,000 hour process by making sure you’re training with quality and in a quality environment...

  • Train with a clear purpose.
  • Surround yourself with other driven players and good training partners.
  • Make sure YOU are a good training partner - by that I mean become a good underarm thrower, side arm thrower, machine operator, catch hitter etc.
  • Make training challenging (balance it with repetition.)
  • Set yourself outcome-based targets.
  • Try to simulate a match environment where possible.

5,000 hours in an environment like that will get you a lot further than 10,000 poor training hours…


If you'd like to train with the ACI this year >> Click Here



I’ve played over 15 years of senior cricket at a decent level and I can’t tell you how many out swingers I’ve bowled at a target at the top of off stump, how many underarms I’ve hit at the back net or how many times I’ve talked about my bowling plans in the first 10 overs of a game.

One thing I can promise you is that each year of experience you get under your belt will bring a new perception on all of those things we do over and over again.

The conversations and training doesn’t change, the way you perceive them does.

The conversation I had about bowling plans when I was 15 was a completely different one than the one I had when I was 22 or 27.

You learn things, you understand things in a different light and you apply all of that previous experience you have to the next out swing drill you do or batting plans conversation you have to make them better than the last.

Please don’t be a serial shiny object chaser.

Get comfortable with repetition.

Get comfortable with doing the ‘boring’ things.

Don’t be in a rush.

Respect the process.

If you think the ACI can help you do that (and I've got no doubt we can) >> Learn how you can train with us.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick

ACI Co Founder and Coach


Having played, worked and coached in an elite and sub-elite cricket environment for over 15 years, I’ve noticed some common differences in the habits and behavioural traits between players that make it to the top and players that don’t.

Here’s my top 7 signs that a player might be destined for higher honours….

  1. They’ve got a growth mindset and are constantly searching for ways to get better.

There are plenty of players who are happy with where they’re at, and that’s fine.

But elite players seem to never stop.

They’re always seeking out ways they can get better.

They never think “I’ve made it”. They always see room for improvement.

It’s a fine line because you don’t want to be too hard on yourself and you want to celebrate your progression and success, but as soon as you think “I’ve made it” you lose that edge of having a growth mindset.

  1. They welcome constructive feedback & criticism and take it well.

It’s not easy to accept anything but positive feedback.

The natural reaction to any type of criticism is to get defensive. I still battle with this myself…

I’m sure everyone does.

I think this one ties in with the above, having a growth mindset.

Cricketers need to become great at filtering. You’re going to get hundreds of different ideas coming at you from all different angles. I always encourage players to take it all in. Never dismiss someone who’s trying to help, but you need to become very good at filtering out what doesn’t work for you and applying what does.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

  1.  They don’t compare themselves to others and take full responsibility for their actions.

Cricket’s a really unique sport where it almost feels like you’re competing against teammates on occasions, and you need to get past that feeling as soon as you can.

I’ll put my hand up and admit that as a younger player I sometimes had thoughts like…”I hope he gets out so I can get a bat.” or “I hope he bowls badly so he doesn’t get a 5fa and I keep my spot.”

I reckon you’d be lying if you said not one thought like that has crossed your mind ever.

Elite players seem to take complete ownership of their actions and the cards they’re dealt.

If they don’t get a bat because they’re down the order, it’s because they haven’t prepared well enough and haven’t scored enough runs.

If the other opening bowler gets 5fa and they get 0. They celebrate their teammates success and review what they could have done better.

If they miss out on a selection…

They get better. Not bitter.


  1. They’re autonomous.

No matter what environment you’re in. School, university, work, sport…

If you’re not autonomous you’re going to be resigned to mediocracy.

Players with that ‘edge’ don’t wait for the coach to tell them what to do. They’re really clear about what they need to work on and they get stuck in.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

  1. They’re self motivated and consistently do the hard/boring things when no one is watching.

This is a big one.

It’s really, really easy to put in 100% when you’re in a team environment and when your coach is watching your moves.

That’s when 99% do and 1% don’t.

What’s not easy to do is consistently make good decisions when absolutely no one is watching.

That’s when 99% won’t and 1% will.

That’s when it’s easy to say “I don’t feel like going for a hit today”

Or to hit the snooze button at 6am when you’d planned to get up and do some sprint training.

That’s when it’s easy to say “I’ll have that second piece of mud cake.”

I really want to challenge every young player to be conscious of every decision you make. Because consistently making good decisions and choices can snowball into extraordinary results.

  1. They have a competitive instinct and drive to win.

Competition is healthy. Competition is good and competition drives you to get better.

At the end of the day, every Saturday morning when we get out of bed during summer, we’re all visualising a win.

Again, it’s a fine line. You don't want to encourage the ‘win at all costs attitude’ but you do want to encourage a competitive environment.

The players in our programs that really stand out are the ones that…

If you ask them to count how many times they hit the target they can tell you and exact amount at the end of the session.

If you ask them to count how many time they hit the ball through a gate they will.

If you ask them to count how many runs they get and ho many times they get out during a net session they do.

They have a healthy appetite for competition.


  1. They seek out environments that will be positive for their development and quality mentors.

Elite players put themselves in environments that are both positive & challenging.

They seek out experienced coaches and mentors.

They realise that not being in an environment like that will hold back their development.

That’s the type of environment that the ACI makes available to every player with the drive and commitment to become the best they can be.

Learn How Your Child Can Train With The ACI This Season

Authors: Nick Fitzpatrick & Joel Hamilton

ACI Co Founders and Coaches.

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Author: Kara Bertoncini

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

“My child gets extremely nervous before he/she bats or bowls.”

“My child doesn’t have any confidence in their own ability.”

“My child takes failure really badly and gets very down on him/herself.”

“My child thinks really negatively.”

“My child put’s so much pressure on him/herself before a game.”

Let me assure you, you're not alone!


I’ve literally spoken to and had in depth conversations on the phone with over 250 parents in the last 35 days.

Parents wanting to know more about our programs and how the ACI operates, as well as to help me gain an understanding of exactly what their child is looking to improve by joining the ACI team.

In the process, I’ve gained a deep understanding of the current landscape in junior cricket.

Obviously each conversation has it’s own twists and goes off in it’s own direction, but I can tell you there’s an overwhelmingly common theme…

The one thing that comes up in nearly every conversation, the one thing that MOST parents say their child is struggling with and wants to improve?

The mental side of the game.

And my first question is…

How do we expect young players to know how to control their thoughts and emotions? Where do they learn how important the thoughts in their head are?


Cricket’s a funny game…

Unlike soccer, footy and rugby which are all fast paced, quite instinctive and don’t allow for much time spent thinking.

Cricket allows you to spend a lot of time inside you own head.

Waiting to bat or bowl, or even in between balls you have a set amount of time to think.

Yet we spend next to no time teaching junior players mental skills and how to use that time positively.

There’s always been the age old debate, how much of cricket is mental and how much is technical?

My personal belief is that it depends on the player and their skill level.

This might seem obvious but…

The better a player’s skills and technique are, the more I think it becomes mental.

The worse a players skills and technique are the more they need to focus on that.

But I think at a base level, all players need to be taught the basic mental skills.

I've always been a big believer in the mental side of the game, but after working under David Reid (Head Coach of Northcote CC in Melbourne) last season, I've gained an even greater understanding of it.


Here’s two truths that players need to believe before they can improve their mental game.

1. The thought’s inside your head have a direct impact on the way your body behaves and the way you execute your skills.

I want you to do a little exercise…

Think of a time where you were really upset, scared or worried about something.

Think about what thoughts were consuming you, how you felt, what effect it had on your body language, voice, mood, tone, attitude, energy and as a result how you acted and behaved that day.

My guess is it effected all of them and not in a positive way?

Now think of a time when you were really confident, positive, happy or excited about.

How did those thoughts and emotions effect the way you felt, sounded, looked and acted that day?

Positively right?

And it’s the exact same on the cricket field.

Now to my second point...

2. You are 100% in control of the thoughts inside your head.

Inside the ACI players only private Facebook group we run new challenges every week over the winter to introduce players to new and positive habits.

One of the challenges a few weeks ago was for players to write down every day, 3 things they were grateful for as soon as they woke up and 2 wins they had during the day before they went to bed.

The core lesson in that challenge?

You are 100% in control of what goes on inside your head.

I know I do, and most players and parents that participated in the challenge found it really easy to be intentional about what they were thinking about.

Once they believe those two truths, then it’s about working out exactly what techniques work best for them to allow them to control the thoughts in their head and exactly what thoughts have a positive effect on their game rather than a negative effect.

Now can you see how a simple shift in focus can have a domino like effect on your game?

Some of the tools that we teach players in our programs to help control their thoughts and emotions are…

  • Journaling - Helps players become aware of their thoughts and emotions and also to understand what thought processes work for them.
  • Positive Self Talk - Developing a set of phrases that get them switched on, focused and confident. Then learning to be aware of negative thoughts and replace them with their new power phrases.
  • Clear Plans - Helping them develop clear plans around their strengths.
  • Visualisation - Creates familiarity with feelings of success.
  • Breathing - Helps clear the mind and centre your thoughts.


Every single player would love more of it.

Confidence is something I think most players believe is out of their control and comes and goes as it pleases.

Yes you can be training the house down, doing everything right and just not get the results on the field.

Of course that’s going to sap your confidence.

But I think in the majority of cases a players confidence can be directly traced back to how well they’ve prepared.

And what sets really good players apart is their ability to review their performance, reset whether good or bad, and start with a clean slate of confidence.

They then go about preparing for their next performance and doing everything they can and need to, to be 100% confident in their own ability the next time they take the field.

Most of the time a player lacks confidence on match day, it’s because they know within themselves that they haven’t done everything they could have done to perform at 100%

So next time your child seems like they’re lacking confidence, help them understand it’s completely in their control.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder and Coach

60 players…

4 nets…

Limited time…

15 kids per coach…

Coaches with preconceptions…

5 minutes to bat and bowl...

One chance to shine...

How on earth are you supposed to stand out at a junior rep trial?

Obviously it’s a tough assignment!

During my time at QLD Cricket I was involved as a selector/advisor at a lot of junior rep trials and I can tell you it’s also a very tough task for the coaches and selectors.

No matter how hard you try to go in with an open mind...

Very limited time to get through a lot of players and your eyes having to be in many places at once make it hard not to go in with some sort of idea of the team you want, making it very hard for players to stand out.

It’s often a hot topic…politics in junior cricket.

I think you’ll find that in any sport, any age, any level there’s some sort of politics. People tend to go with things they know and like. Not just in sport but life as well. And if a player’s been in the team and done a reasonable job, someone’s got to do something pretty special to jump the queue.

Aside from that, at the end of the day selections are always going to be a matter of opinion that are open to debate. There's no clear right or wrong.

In saying that, here’s our top 6 ways to stand out from the crowd at rep training.


If you’re not early you’re late. Get to the ground with plenty of time to get your gear on, screen up, fill the water bottle and make yourself known. There’s nothing worse that a player rocking up just on time or even late, instant cross against the name and one that's very hard to come back from.

TIP: If you are going to be late, please make sure you or your parents notify whoever you need to early enough. It’s a sign of respect and they’ll appreciate it.


Once you arrive make sure you’re independent. That starts with getting your own bag out of the car and carrying it yourself. It should absolutely never happen but when I see a parent carrying a players bag for them that’s the ball game, no coming back. Your parent’s won’t be there to carry your bag at the carnival.


An extension of #2. This one isn’t a necessity but going up to confidently introduce yourself to every coach and selector on the day makes for a great first impression and you’ll be in their mind throughout the day then. Don't over play it and look like a suck up, but this is a good one.



DO NOT try to be something you’re not. I think a lot of players think they need to be the most powerful hitter of the ball, fastest bowler and biggest turner. If you go away from your natural game, you’ll look stupid. This is where understanding your strengths and weaknesses is so critical, a learning process that we take all of our junior academy players through. Stick to your game, if it’s not good enough then seek feedback on how you can improve it to a level so that it is.


There’s other ways to stand out. Always show positive intent in whatever you do. If you’re bowling appeal when you think it’s out, celebrate when you get a wicket. Don’t carry on and go overboard but compete as if you would in a game, that shows enthusiasm and competitiveness which coaches love.

If you’re batting with a partner call loudly and positively. If you’re batting on your own, drop a few balls close to your feet, call loudly and take off as if you’re going for a single. That show’s coaches that you’re thinking about how you’d bat in a game, not just mindlessly hitting balls.

I know not everyone is loud and boisterous but you’ve got to find an alter ego when you cross the white line.

Note: I’ve got a great PDF about creating your own alter ego in sport. If you’d like it hit me up on FB chat. I’ll comment below this article so you can access my profile.


You've turned up early, shown your independence and introduced yourself confidently to the coaches. Stuck to YOUR game and done so with a positive intent in everything you did. Well done. Now it’s time to confidently thank the coaches for the session and walk away knowing you’ve done EVERYTHING you can do to make that team.

If it happens great! If not, it’s not the end of the world (or anywhere near it).

Junior rep carnivals are great fun, allow you to meet new mates and learn a lot. But playing junior rep cricket does not mean you’re going to ‘make it’ as a cricketer.

I’ve seen so many players come from no rep cricket to be very good senior crickets and visa versa, plenty of young guns fall away.

No matter what always seek feedback on how you can continually get better.

Author: Nick Fitzpatrick - ACI Co Founder and Coach