How to Make the Leap to Higher Standard Cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to Make the Leap to Higher Standard Cricket

Moving up to a higher standard is difficult.

You only have to look at the trail of failed professional cricketers who were tried and discarded at International level. But it's equally true of the level I coach at the moment. Boys have to move from 20 over soft ball pairs cricket to 40 over hard ball "real" cricket.

So whatever level you play, there is always a standard to jump up. How do you do it?

I can tell you from experience as a coach that its rare to see a completely ready player arrive at a new level. They may have skills and talents but at zero point for experience you are looking for different things than you expect from your star players.

For example, this season we have had several new boys come into the side to see how they fare. None have been an overnight explosion of success. Technically, tactically and even emotionally they are behind. However, the ones with potential all have similar traits:

Be ready to learn

As soon as you move up a level you will be in an unusual situation. There are huge chances to learn and gain experiences you would not have got lower down the ladder.

So look for them right from the start.

You may be a successful batsman who is brought up and told to bat at 8. Of course this is not ideal, but it's also a chance. You can show your ability to bat with the tail or finish a run chase. You can talk to good cricketers and learn how they play and practice, especially if you get to net with them, or even better, get one as a batting buddy.

This is not just psyco-babble "take the positives", it means you are getting full advantage of a situation. It shows the coach, captain and other senior players that you are willing to put in some effort to make it, and that always goes down well.

If you do this, it becomes less important whether you succeed or fail in these early days. Key people will start to say you have a "good attitude" and you are give more rope, more time and more opportunities.

Speak up

Good coaches and captains are always impressed by players who give opinions. This can be hard to do in a new team where you are the most junior - especially if you have a quiet personality - but you can always find a way.

Perhaps shouting at the captain that you should obviously have a 2nd slip is not the best approach. However, you could sidle up to him and ask if he had thought about strengthening the cordon as the ball is swinging. He might say no, but he will also be impressed.

Another way to speak up is to ask questions of senior players. You can ask why a field is set a certain way. You can even challenge a coach about why he is asking you to make a technical or tactical change. It's easy to do this in a non-confrontational, curious manner. It shows you are being mindful.

It's also crucial to ask for feedback. Say you are dropped after one game, rather than wait for the captain to explain, seek him out and ask what you need to do to get back in the team now he has seen you play. It shows a willingness to work hard, improve and fit into the team unit.

Be an athlete

There is a boy who plays in the team I coach who is technically behind the better players. However, in the short time he has played he has done 2 things:

  1. Improved his technique
  2. Shown his general athleticism

If you are making the jump up, both of these are born from your fitness. If you are strong, fast and mobile with a good body awareness, you will be given more chances at a higher level.

You will be able to bowl faster, hit harder and field better than other players with whom you compete. You will also have less injuries.

But sometimes an overlooked benefit of getting fitter is that you learn how your body moves, and so you are able to pick up and hone techniques quickly.

This is a trait of good cricketers and any coach will be impressed by a player who has learned from their coaching sessions (frankly, it's good for the coaches ego).

So take time to do the right kind of athletic development and strength training as it pays off many times over when you get the call.

And speaking of the right kind of training, Dr Laurence Houghton always says that the players who stretch are the ones who are the most committed to self improvement. So it also shows a little of your personality to the coach.

Making a jump up in levels is about far more than your ability to score runs or take wickets, especially early on when you are a junior player and still learning. However, if you take the right approach you will be given more chances to score those runs and take those wickets.

Good luck and let all of us at PitchVision Academy know how you get on.

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