How to be the best player at cricket trials

IMG_2128Love them or hate them, trial matches are used the world over to decide the fate of young cricketers.

They are the exams of the cricket world: Do well and you could be on your way to a professional contract. Mess up and... well, let's not think about messing up.

That's pressure however you cut it. The worst thing about pressure is that it tends to make you look silly. The tension in your body stops you performing well. But if you want to be a success you have to get used to playing under pressure.

How do you deal with it?
 
Action vs. Intent

I recently got an email from the father of James, a player who will be trailing soon. He has every intention of becoming a professional cricketer and his statistics back up his claims: 22 wickets in 7 Premier League 1st XI league games so far this season at an average of just over eleven.

He father emailed me for some trial advice because James was busy: He was in the gym at 10pm making the most of a rare day off playing (he plays school, club and representative cricket).

How many players who want to trial can say they are putting in the action to match the intent like this?

Some people are lucky and can sail through on talent without hard work, but those are the very rare people. Most of us normal human beings have to put in long hours of committed practice to be as good.

That's why the first step to performing well is to make your actions match you intentions.

Good preparation has the added benefit of allowing you to rely on your skills. The more you hone your technique the stronger loads into your muscle memory. That means you don't have to think consciously about things and can perform without overthinking.

But that take practice and lots of it, especially of basic skills under pressure situations. Work harder than everyone else and you will play better too.

Don't go changing

All that said, in the run up to a trial the worst thing you can do is make dramatic changes to what you are doing.

Chances are that if you have got a trial you have had some success with your method. Any change now could upset that. Let's say you are an opening bat who plays in a conservative manner. You hear the team you are trialling for is looking for an aggressive player. To go to the trial and try to blast it would be less likely to succeed. A well paced hundred would be far more impressive than an ugly twenty five, even if your style doesn't match the selector's current aims.

The same goes for your practice. Do what you always did. You may get what you always got (as the cliché goes) but in this circumstance that is what you want.

Learn to relax

The final preparation element is to be able to deal with the tension of a big game like a trial.

As you know, when we feel tense mentally we respond physically; our shoulders hunch, we narrow our eyes and grit our teeth. None of these physical responses are needed to bat, bowl or field and so we end up wasting energy on tensing up.

Most of the time players don't even realise they are doing it. Take right now as an example; if you are sat at your PC you are probably tensing your shoulders. Relax them now. Did you even realise they were tense?

Here is a simple trick to learn to recognise that tension and release it. You can do it for 20 minutes a day for a week:

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair and keep still. Without moving, become aware of whatever is making contact with your body: the chair, something in your hand, the feel of the breeze, etc.
  2. Take in the feel of your clothes, the movement of your ribs as your breath, the things you see and the things you can hear. Don't try to make sense of it, just take it in.
  3. Check your body, especially the jaw and shoulders, for tension. Relax the muscles if you feel any.
  4. Sit for a moment just breathing and relaxing, trying not to consciously think or react.

This can be hard to do at first and takes some practice. The idea is to be very aware of the moment, not thinking forward or back, so you can relax and focus.

By the end of the week you will be able to recognise tension on the field. Take a moment to let it out, breathe and focus again on the next ball.

Review your performance

Once the trial is over you may have done well or badly. Either way, review your performance with a critical eye. It helps to have a coach to talk you through it but you can do it alone. Look at:

  • Your performance on the day: what you did well, what went badly.
  • Your preparation in the run up to the trial.

Look at what worked and what didn't. Even if you did well, you will no doubt be in a pressure situation again soon. If you did badly you can learn from the experience for the next trial. Either way, reflecting on things is an importnt step not to be missed.

What are your experiences?

Have you (or someone you coach) got a trial coming up? Perhaps you had one recently.

We would love to get your feedback on how you are preparing or how you prepared. Real life experiences are always so much more valuable. Leave a comment and let us know.

image credit: HNM_1977

 

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Comments

i am 17 year old boy who wanting to play in the international level, i just started to take the cricket training and the game seriously so do you think i can make it to the team if i try hard and what do i have to do to become a cricketer in the future.can you give me some tips plzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I am 18 year old. I am right hdan bats man and left arm bowler my strong point in cricket is my bowling. I had played cricket in club level but I don't experience of any division cricket tournament. I want paly in big level but when I go for slection trials I lost my confedence so please give me some tips for trials

i am 15year old. from 3 or 4 year i have started cricket and play in a acadmy. i want to play in big level. now i play for a team. i did not go for a trail but i want to go to trail please tell me f there is tail in bareilly, rampur, moradabad, or delhi. (in up india)

hi im 23 years old and ive played cricket when i was in grade 9 for 3 years untill grade 12 so i would like to go for trial out when you got one because i have not yet went to trial out but i would love to play for the National team and be seen offering my talent and skills and i also like you to let me know if there will be trial out soon at Durban because i live in Pietermaritzburg

Thank you very much

I am 15 year old. I play for a club. I never go for trial because the trial is for up board student not for cbse student. I want to upcoming trial in bareilly, rampur, lucknow, delhi, moradabad. Please tell me

7 months back i gave my first trials i wasnt even able to touch the ball prperly and was not selected .I gave another trials 1 month ago and thrashed the bowlers and i dont even practice in an academy .how this happened?well i practiced hard with my hanging ball and THE MOST important part was that i visualised myself hitting drives to the bowlers and having the feeling of success in my mind before going to the trials although i was not selected coz i created a vision for playing well and didnt care for being selected or not! SO DO VISUALISE AND FEEL THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE THAT!!!!!

i never been in trials pls update me i live in olievenhoutbosch i play for old parks sunday once im 17years old.

i am eighteen years old and i am playing club division cricket from three years . i have passed trials every time and i am a bowling allrounder and i bowl at an average speed of 130kmphr but still i dont get chance in the matches and when ever i get i take 3 to 4 wickets but still they make me sit after 1or 2 game . i am tring really hard but i am not getting the perfect oppurtunity as i am a poor boy iwill have to leave cricket within 1 years if i dont get the state level cricket. plz help me what shall i do

i am eighteen years old and i am playing club division cricket from three years . i have passed trials every time and i am a bowling allrounder and i bowl at an average speed of 130kmphr but still i dont get chance in the matches and when ever i get i take 3 to 4 wickets but still they make me sit after 1or 2 game . i am tring really hard but i am not getting the perfect oppurtunity as i am a poor boy iwill have to leave cricket within 1 years if i dont get the state level cricket. plz help me what shall i do i leave in west bengal

I'm the same age as u and i've been offered to play for Middlesex. I rejected it. I just wanted to do somfin else. First have a one to one session with the coach so what your capable of. Tell him that u want to show him that your not a slag but a cricketer. I am a spin bowler but my batting is that great. The thing I do is I turn the game around by take wickets. I believe that u should do well with your batting as well. If u can show the coach that u are a all-rounder someone like Broad. He a very good as a fast bowler and he batting is ok not that bad. Furthermore, I think that the coach wants to see other players to. He wants to see how they do in the game.

I'm a 19 years good allrounder in cricket but i don't know the way to play in the international cricket matches so please guide me.

Who do you play for now Raul? I would start by picking up the free advice of Kevin Pietersen here www.pitchvision.com/kp

i'm 15years dont know how to bat against spin bowler if i bat against spin my ball imigeatly go into air and there is a chance of caugth can you help me with this problem.............specially with leg spin bowler i face lot of difficulties

See my last answer Saksham, but also see here: http://www.pitchvision.com/the-hierarchy-of-playing-spin

Hi there my name i subhaan i am 14 years of age i have been playing cricket since i was four. I believe i have career in cricket but i was never given a fair chance to trial

I am vishal chincholkar 17 years old. i am allrounder ,and best medium pacer bowller.my career

Hi,

I am father of 2 sons who are really good in cricket. My elder son was put forward to Bucks district trials and was offered part of district team.

What I fail to understand in these trials are:

1. Lack of clear set of measurement criteria in terms of batting, bowling, wicket keeping etc.
2. No open communication with the parents
3. No follow up advice / feedback and recommendations
4. No national/ regional profiling of players

Regards,
Dharmendra

Dharmendra

I'm not involved in Bucks cricket but I'll give you the viewpoint of someone who has experience of how other counties do things. Before I address your points I will add the following disclaimer - I no idea what age group your boy trialled for so this is a very generalised overview. Further, I think you have to appreciate where district cricket is on the pyramid - for many areas it nestle between club and county and whilst important is not overly well funded/supported.

1 - I would guess that criteria is there but as you say it is not made clear. More than likely it comes down to the 'coaches eye' and 'feel' for each player. Frustrating for you as a parent (and for the players) but often this is how it is done as this level.

2- Par for the course I'm afraid. Some areas/coaches are very good, others are very poor. If you are simply after information then you should never be afraid to ask questions.

3- As number 2 and again very much par for the course at district level. Remember though, it may well be two or three coaches who are assessing 50/60 boys that is a lot of work to expect someone to undertake for next to no reward.

Further you need to understand that some coaches at this level are reluctant to pass on feedback because of undue criticism from parents. Parents (and correctly so) will only ever see the good in their child and are very subjective. Coaches are trying to be objective and apply whatever criteria they are working towards. What one party sees can be very different to the other. Other issues arise with club coaches who can be offended when a coach suggests a player needs to work on this or that. Some see it as a slight on their ability to coach rather than another point of view.

4 - Remember what I said about the place of district teams on the pyramid? There are not enough resources to profile every player coming into the system at this level. For example, the county next to me runs 5 district sides at 3 different age groups. That is upwards of 200 players to keep records on every year, not to mention those that come in later/drop out.

If a player reaches the full county side then I would imagine some profile is kept. It's a lot easier to track 14 players. Also, from a national point of view it is not really needed until the U13/14 age groups when players are able to represent their region at the Bunbury festival and ultimately England U15s. That said, stand out players are noted - indeed the ECB run talent tests from the U13s upwards (blog from 2010 - http://downatthirdman.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/test-cricket-%E2%80%93-as...)

To sum up -

1- depends on the coach but there probably is criteria just not clearly laid out

2/3 - luck of the draw with some good/some with room for improvement. However, there are many reason why.

4 - depends on the level and age. Resources are finite and often saved for those at the top end of the ladder/age ranges.

Hopefully that gives you another insight even if most of it you could work out for yourself.

Fab insight into the workings of rep level cricket in the UK Tev. It's equally as frustrating for coaches as it is for parents. Putting on my PV hat, we do have a system for standardising testing and feedback that we are trying to establish as the norm. This will certainly remove 90% of the frustrations both coaches and parents feel.

It's very difficult at times - until you're involved in the system it can be very frustrating looking in from the outside. Parents do want feedback but giving it leaves a coach open to a number of comebacks. Likewise, giving feedback to a players regional/district or club coach can also has it's pros and cons.

In the area I'm from we have get great feedback from the one county age group but its very poor from others (I'm guilty as well although I'm only an assistant coach at county level and do give feedback when requested). However, that feedback tends to only be for players who are released. Often it is simply provided in the form of a check list although this does at least give an insight into what the criteria is.

As for standardised testing, I would welcome a system with open arms. Not to automate the system but to provide further tools when assessing players. In the squad I'm currently involved in I have a difference of opinion with the head coach over a certain player. My gut feeling is that at the moment he is not up to standard and another player should have been selected instead. However, it boiled down to a trial match where the selected player performed and my preferred choice didn't. However, this ignores months of winter training (etc), something which the PV system could have provided valuable insights on.

Great feedback Tev. Anyone else involved in coaching back the idea of standard testing?

i m a 12 year old boy and i am an opening batsmen i have opened for the u-16 team now i want to play state level

I'm 27 years from up india playing cricket but good coaching

I'm 27 years from up india playing cricket as a batsman but wants good coaching can u help me

first of all,I think u should always practice with that player who was more telanted than u,so that u can get your lose points n can repare to that lose point.
kapil thakur

first of all,I think u should always practice with that player who was more telanted than u,so that u can get your lose points n can repare to that lose point.
kapil thakur

my friend i am also just like you as a cricketer.first of all i would like to intrroduce my self. NAME-KAPIL KUMAR SAIN AGE-20 AS A CRICKETER-RIGHT HAND BATSMAN,RIGHT HAND FAST BOWLER. Now i am going to give an advise: FIRST-you should relax a lote so that whan you are to be giving your preformance you are to be fresh and give your 100/. SECOND-when you are on trial then think that you and your oponant only two person are there. THIRD-at last,to play like a hero(hero-a player who plays best) you can play in any clua but due to belong a very poor family i can not play in any club.i am a good player of my local team.

i am 12 yr old and and a very sound technique player and im serious about it

I am 12 years old and I have trials for under 12s please can you tell me on what will I have to do at the trials

buddy its not that theirs some tips which will conformly lead u to play for ur nation m also a 17 yr old boy playing cricket for quite 3 yrs , its likely confidence and a single aim of cricket wid love and passion and respect to ur coach with hard work and if ur are lucky u will achieve ur dream.......

hi i am 18 yr old iam right hand batsman and left arm bowler. both r level but when iam going to bowling i lost my confidence. i want to play with indian disable cricket team for india. please help for my confidence. iam disable by left foot.

Sir iam a allrounder batsman bating bowling and fielding dono hi karta hu this is my age 16 years

Hi, I'm a 14 year old boy and I used to play cricket for my club until the club manager kept on picking on me alone. I am a very strong batsman, but not so strong a bowler. I can field very well and I can throw 56 metres with a tennis ball and 75 metres with a cricket ball. I'm not very confident, so that's why I don't play cricket anymore. I still practise a lot though

I love cricket from the core of my heart.i am a right handed batsman. i work very hard to become a good cricketer.but when i play in big matches or trials i lose my confidence.so, plzzzz give me some useful tips and techniques from which i can make bigger scores or get select in the trials.
for this i am very thankful to you . plzzzzzzz

I'm 13 years old and I have a trial for oxfordshire county next week, I wish to play international cricket one day and it will help me come closer to this goal if I pass these trials. Could you please give me a rough idea on what sort of things they will be doing at the trial?

I'm 32 years old, on bridging visa. Recently I realised from certain camp.I am pakistani . I want to play cricket if you please give chance I will do my best of ability. Thank you very much.

Dear brother,plz don't wrry about this .you may concentrate on your game.I know,that you take 3,4 wicket in every match,but u have to do something with the bat,.try to do some thing new ,try to tens the batsmen ,affraid the batsman.so that they know ,how capable u are...

dear friends plz tell me under 19 trials date

My age is 24 years i play cricket well as a batsman i belong to uttar pradesh, india. But i wants join best cricket coaching and give trail for u.p u-25( give me suggestion)

I Am good Cricketer

i want to give trial for U-16 delhi team.i am not so good in batting but at critical conditions i always
handles the pressure very well .i have played many matches and i am the best allrounder in my whole school.i am good in bowling ,i can bowl inswing,outswing,can do reverse swing.

My age is 13 and I want to become a cricketer and I want to give trial

sir im 18 yr old sir me nokia star ki team se khelta ho sir ap mera ek bar trail lele plz sir meri team mj pe phaker karti he sir me opner hu sir plz 1 chance 03153052526 sir ye mera number he plz sir mje call krna agar ap chahty he k me pakistan ki team ka mustakbil banu plz.

I'm u-15 young boy and i'm a bowler i wana played in any acadmy.i'm fast bowler and do inswing,out swing,and reverse swing in fast bowling. If you wana trails frm me please cantact me at 923139433469.IM FRM khyber pokhtunkhwa pakistan

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