PitchVision elite coach Ian Pont has announced the MCI International Cricket Camp in South Africa in December 2010 for talented players. It's the first time the camp has been open to non-professionals.
In this interview, Ian gives us the lowdown on why intense camps are so beneficial.
PV: What are the main benefits of going on an intense camp?
IP: The great thing is that learning can be sequenced and built up over the time without the breaks you get in weekly sessions. By having continual coach feedback you can make instant improvements.
Also the camp itself becomes a valuable resource where the group develops individuals' attitudes. There's nothing quite like feeling part of a high level camp to assist with confidence, understanding and growth.
PV: What is a typical day like on a camp?
IP: The days are varied. They can include matches, nets, video analysis, lectures and individual attention based on scenarios. Players have a great focus and so develop their game with technical and tactical input to ensure they make good decisions and acquire new skills.
PV: How much of a technical difference can you make to bowling actions and batting shots in a short, intense period like at the camp?
IP: Most players don't spend long enough thinking about their technical skills - they think more about outcomes; runs and wickets. So an intense camp can have a huge difference to the skill levels to any player with the time to work at then under specialised guidance.
PV: How important is a player's attitude and work ethic in making a success of an intense camp?
IP: I have found that players raise their game when they attend a camp. People want to maximise their time and ability. There would be little point coming all that way if you don't want to be there! The intensity of exposure to cricket means the whole group gel and bond.
PV: What kind of preparation should a player attending the camp undertake before he arrives?
IP: Fitness is the main thing. Get fit to bowl and bat for 8 days in the heat.
PV: It must be easy for players to return to old habits when they get back and waste what they have learned. What's the best way to keep the benefits of a camp when getting back to the dead of winter in the UK?
The great thing about camps is that it becomes clear what a player should be working on next. We identify weaknesses and help set up how to improve them. Once back in the UK those training drills and grooving should be worked on.
PV: How can camps help players to be tactically astute even under pressure?
IP: The great thing about playing cricket at a controllable camp is we can stop and rerun scenarios. You cannot do this on a cricket tour for example, which is why a camp always offers far more benefits. We can put players in a situation to help them work out what to do, what they did and how they could have done it better. I cannot think of anything better.
PV: Where is your camp?
IP: The University of Potchefstroom in South Africa. We chose it because Potchefstroom is a high altitude venue for elite level training. It's a centre of excellence and the cricket facilities are regularly used by first-class counties and professionals. Durham used the venue for pre-season last year for example. It was also used for the World Cup 2011 qualifiers and has excellent pitches, training, gym and accommodation available.
It's clear anyone can benefit from an intense training camp during the off-season. If you are a want to attend the MCI international Cricket Camp in South Africa click here for details.