How to play like an Academy cricketer | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

How to play like an Academy cricketer

Many young players dream of making it as a professional cricketer. How do you give yourself the best chance of making it to the top?

One simple way is to play with the intensity and enthusiasm of a player who is in an Academy.

You see, Academy players know that talent is a flexible thing. You can be born with great natural hand-eye coordination or you can learn how to improve it over time.

Wherever you are on the talent scale, the key is attitude.

Attitude influences ability directly.

The player who works with intensity and enthusiasm will always make better strides forward than the player who wants it all to be handed to them through their natural skills.

At least that's what Gary Palmer, the PitchVision Academy Batting Coach and Director of CCM Academy says. And he should know. Gary was a professional cricketer with Somerset for 10 years before turning to coaching and building up an impressive CV. More importantly he has coached 38 young players into full first class contracts, Academy intakes or age group squads.

How to practice like you are at an Academy

Gary is always looking for talented young cricketers to take into his Academy. Would you be able to keep the intensity up and show you have what it takes?

To help you decide, Gary has agreed to reveal what his Academy sessions are like. If you can keep up with the pace in your own practice you know you are on the right track.

Once you have been selected for the CCM Academy the basic structure is simple: 15 full days of coaching spread throughout the winter, spring and summer followed by a 10 match summer season against first class Academy sides.

The days are very intense. I came along to see the Academy in action recently. Gary and his team of coaches (all former first class or International players) lined up a taxing plan.

All the players start with an hour of fielding drills that covers the range of skills required of a modern professional cricketer: Diving, throwing from your knees, backing up, and hitting the stumps.

This is followed by a batting warm up starting with tennis balls with a bobble feed to get the body moving and groove the muscle memory for key shots. Four bowling machines are then brought out to deliver technical, tactical and mental coaching.

With four or five batters per net, each net sets their machine on a different theme of bowling and through the use of cones placed in specific scoring areas each net tries to achieve a given total. Because this is interesting and competitive the players are lured into batting for long periods of time while remaining focused for every delivery. Each group has half an hour per net meaning the players have two hours of highly intense and focused batting.

As Gary supervised he told me the exercise tests and builds mental strength, and encourages batters to learn to perform a skill well under pressure.

Not bad considering we had not even had lunch yet.

The afternoon saw the group split up. More traditional nets put the specialist bowler's through their paces. Meanwhile a couple of bowling machines had been set up for some one-to-one coaching.

Today, Gary explained, he was teaching the boys how to play different types of spin. One net is for the ball turning away, the other net for the ball turning in. The players couldn't relax as Gary was drilling, coaching and assessing players all the way through.

The day finishes with a tactical game to bring in a more competitive element.

The big picture

It felt to me like a test to the players. They all had the desire to be professional and the CCM Academy was giving them a taste of the experience. However, the problem for most cricket clubs and players is they can't possibly find the time and resources to devote the same attention.

Even if you did have the bowling machine, nets and drills you need, how do you drive yourself on without someone with experience to guide you?

Gary was kind enough to show me his secrets, but to really succeed you actually had to be there.

CCM Academy Intake 2011/12

Gary is starting his selection process for the 2011/12 intake now (starting over Christmas 2011). So now you can be part of the Academy. Players have travelled from all over the UK to attend the Academy held in Hampshire.

If you are interested in finding out how you can trial for CCM Academy in 2011/12 then click here.

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How many days a week do they do this? And would the workload be cutdown for a fast bowler?

Fast bowlers were on the same plan although the number of balls bowled is monitored for all players. They do 15 days per year like this (plus 10 matches). In between the players play and train at their clubs, schools and at representitive level.

Does this academy take players from overseas?

Technically yes, but you would need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements which can be impractical.

So the process is to pay 90 pounds to attend the trials for an U10 boy in November then if selected pay the remaining 1210?


What if you can't afford the fees which is very high for a lower middle class parent even though you are talented enough to be out there in the academy.

I look at it like this, if you are talented then the Academy will get you up to pro standards and when you get a contract you can pay your parents back. The question is rarely "can I afford it" but "Am I confident enough in my own ability to take the financial risk?"

Well i guess you are right in the sense that one has to be confident in his ability to take the risk. Well i ll see what i can do to persuade my friends and i have applied for some fundings as well but the problem is i have very less time and i belive that CCM can definitely take me places bigger i think. So hope i can do it or it ll be another struggle.

I have just one big question in my mind.
Why aren't there summer academies in UK like those of in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa? For example Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in Adelaide, ACE cricket Academy in Perth, Steve Chapman Cricket Academy in Melbourne, Cape Cricket Academy in Cape Town, etc. They are there for any player who wants to develop his game, wishes to work hard to be a professional player.
I guess England has got facilities as good as these and good quality coaches are here. If you have academies like these in England, that would be awesome specially for a young player like me who isn't in the county age group set up. We could work hard in a professional way daily under the watchful eyes of the coaches and if we keep progressing we could have a career in cricket. In England only those talented young players selected in First Class Cricket Academy receive world class training. If a young player who isn't as good as county academy player, would never receive quality training like that of an academy player to develop his game. If he wants to be as good as those county players, he needs to work hard and needs intense coaching sessions.

However there are some winter academies in England for these guys. Take CCM Academy for an example. It just runs for 15 days in 6 months long winter. I would say thats not enough. The coaching tips and drills might be good enough. But as a hungry young player, I would like to work under coaches daily not just 15 days in the whole winter. In winter its hard to manage the daily training sessions but in summer like that of Australia and South Africa, we can have academies like them, can't we? Academies like these give opportunity to young players to develop their games who aren't in the county age group set ups. In England if you aren't in any county age group set up, its hard for you to make a professional career. Because of this system, there are so many undiscovered talents being wasted.

Do you mean private academies that run every day outside of the county/university setup? If so I would be surprised if many could afford to pay for intense coaching every day. It would be too expensive. Maybe I have misunderstood though.

hey i am playing club level and i'm 16. I hope to play premier league bronze next year, but my club goes to gold league (in hampshire) and i really really REALLY want to go professional one day, every year i am always faster than the season before. what standard would i have to be before i have a chance to get into the CCM? you won't find a more enthusiastic or dedicated player than I.


You have to be of school 1st XI standard, I would recommend applying for the trial day as the only way to know for sure is to go along and compare yourself to the others.

Where can i find that dates etc for the 2011/12 sessions please? It makes reference to 10/11.

2011/12 details are here

Did you enrol in 2010/11?