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