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It's the season to be jolly, so here is the happiest cricket coaching newsletter in the world. Why so festive? Because there are some incredible cricket tips as gifts for you.

We show you how to become a professional cricketer with a detailed guide to some of the secrets. And it's no secret that you have to train hard to make it, so we also go into how to banish some bad habits and some advice to overcome some of your less helpful personality traits that might be holding you back.

Have a great holiday season,

David Hinchliffe

How to Become a Professional Cricketer

So you want to play professional cricket.

Congratulations on setting your goal. Now the work starts.

This guide will talk you through the practical and philosophical basics of becoming a professional cricketer. Your location will vary the specifics slightly, but the basic principles still apply wherever you are in the world. 90% of what you do to become a cricketer in India or Sri Lanka is the same as in Australia, England or anywhere else.

There are also some helpful links through the article to give you some more reading and advice. So get stuck in and get to the nets.


Make the most of your chance

The first thing you need is honesty: Are you really good enough?

There is no getting around this one I'm afraid. You need a basic semblance of ability to make it to the top. While there are many ways to maximise what you have (see below), you need something special too. Be realistic with yourself and your talent and set smaller, more achievable goals at first, even if your big ambition is far away.

You don't have to be amazing right now - although it helps if you are - but you do need to think that you might be amazing at some point. If that's true, then what?

  • Practice all the time. You know the law of 10,000. It's not hard and fast but the idea that you need to put in a lot of practice is true. The earlier you start the better you can play and practice. There is no substitute. For drills, check out PitchVision Academy online coaching.
  • Be pushy. If you are working hard at your game and producing results you deserve to be noticed. If that isn't happening you can push yourself into the limelight. Ask your coaches what you need to do to get to the next level and keep coming back to them when you have done what they asked. Jut do it in a polite way.
  • Get mentally tough. Cricket can be won and lost in the head probably more than any other game. It's essential to learn the techniques to make your mental toughness and will to win as well developed as your cover drive (or googly). Study and practice this element relentlessly until it is part of your make up. You need to be able to bounce back from failure, win ugly and ride the wave of success in equal measures. That takes time but you will be playing so much you have plenty of games to hone the skills.
  • Find a mentor. A mentor is an uncommon thing in cricket but it can make a big difference to whether you can make it or not. Mentors can not only help you (and how much they help is up to you), they can also argue your case for moving to the next level. Find someone you trust and admire and be confident enough to ask them their opinion. Most people love to talk about themselves so listen to what they say and see what you can learn.

However, most importantly, there is one thing all aspiring professional cricketers should do: Subscribe to PitchVision Academy. It's free and packed with advice every week. As you are going to have a lot of weeks before you make it, you have plenty of time to take it all in.

Pathways to the top

Every country has a "pathway" to professional (and international) cricket. If you want to become a cricketer, it helps to understand what you need to do to move up through the system. The best way is to ask someone in the know in your local area. Adminstrators will tell you all about it. But to illustrate, here are some pathways in the English system:

In the UK, cricket is run by the ECB. There are 18 fully professional county clubs that can take you on.

Club cricket

Below the county level there are local leagues. The best of these are called Premier Leagues and clubs are run semi-professionally. As you move lower down the levels, fewer players are paid until it it totally recreational.

Most clubs are affiliated to the ECB and players join the clubs (usually at a junior age). If you are good enough at your junior level your club can put you forward to play at a higher level. This usually means representing your region within the county at ages 10-18. If you are good at this level you can represent the county at age group level.

The best players are mostly playing first eleven club cricket and regular representative cricket by age 16. These are the guys who will look to get into County Academies: The youth scheme all professional counties operate. Once you are in that system you are well on your way.

Older players can still make it though.

Good performances at senior club level or in the minor counties (non-professional representative cricket) can be rewarded with a county trial well into your twenties. The older you get the less likely this is to happen. That said, there are outlier cases of players making a professional debut even into the late 30s. Don't bank on this. The earlier the better.

Additionally, there are many clubs who employ players on a short term basis as player coaches or paid professionals. Not many players can make a career of this but there are opportunities for good players not quite good enough to make it at first class level. You generally need to contact clubs directly to be considered and you will need a substantial track record at club level to have a serious chance.

School and University cricket

School cricket is less popular than it used to be, but many schools have a fine tradition of cricket and if you attend one of these, such as Millfield, you have access to cricket coaching and personal development that is extremely good for your game. However, most people in England don't get a lot of school cricket and rely on the club game to develop.

The good news is that whatver your cricket at school, you could attend a University that has been allocated as an MCCU. Currently these are Cambridge, Oxford, Loughborough, Durham, Leeds/Bradford and Cardiff/Glamorgan). Naturally, you need enough academic ability to get on a course, but once in place you can play a high standard and get spotted for a county through the University competition.

It's worth reiterating here that the English system is unique but not so different from other countries. Everywhere with a professional level has some form of club cricket and some level of representative cricket where you are picked based on ability. If you get runs and wickets consistently enough at one level, you can move forward to the next on merit, and that should be your take home point.

Becoming an "overseas professional"

If you want to play professionally in the UK and you are based in another country it's a lot more difficult. You will need a work permit and to play county cricket that means having played at International level for your country of birth (although there are some loopholes).

More realistically is working in the UK as an overseas player for a recreational club. There are many clubs looking for good overseas players but most go though agencies like CricX for them. If you are of professional standard in your own country consider contacting a decent agency as that is the fastest route in.

Ther is also the backdoor of University cricket.

What next?

This article has given yo a lot to digest and you are probably feeling motivated yet overwhelmed. You are thinking, "What should I do next to become a cricketer?"

The simple answer is to go about taking some wickets and scoring some runs. Cream will rise to the top, whatever the system.

To start that domino process, you can do some more research. This article is the perfect place to begin. Then put your name down for the free PitchVision Academy newsletter to stay on top of the latest tips and advice to improve your game. Finally, hit the nets, play some cricket, have some fun and let me know when you make it.

I have faith in you.

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Have a Wonderful Christmas from PitchVision Academy

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Can You Banish These Bad Cricket Habits?

We are all guilty of the odd discretion from time to time, yet we all want to improve as cricketers. So let's work together to banish the poor habits and replace them with efficient and effective ones instead.


If you are any good, your career might just depend on it.


Having a hit

As a coach, this is my number one gripe with players. We all know netting is a great way to practice. The problem is that when it's done badly it's next to useless. And that badness I'd defined by the term "I'm having a hit"

On the surface it sounds good. You are getting your eye in. You are finding form. It is building up your deliberate practice. In reality, these terms mean nothing. I was once told by a player at an off season net (6 months before the season started) that he was trying to find some rhythm.

Great. What would he do with it for half a year when he found it?

I'll tell you what: Lose it again.

So banish "having a hit" and replace it with accountable practice with purpose. If for no other reason than to stop me tearing my hair out.

Bowling no balls

How many no balls did you bowl in the last 12 months?

Even if the answer is "zero" I want you to consider this bad habit removal tool for the sake of your team mate who somehow bowled 29 of the things. This is because it's so easy to fix with one simple change: Don't bowl no balls in practice.

I have never heard an argument in defence of bowling practice no balls. The best I hear is that "I never bowl them in games" which is fine for that individual but shows a lack of discipline in the team that leaks into other bowlers who do bowl no balls.

Put it to an end by having a blanket policy for anyone who bowls (even the keeper at nets) That no balls are never bowled.

It's much better to bowl from the bowling crease than it is to go over the popping crease. It makes no difference to pace and it kills no ball problems.

Now, I appreciate that for some cases, no balling is a bigger issue that needs a proper intervention. If that's you, then click here.

Doing what you always did

There is a famous saying that if you do what you always did, you get what you always got. Some people are OK with that. They go about doing things "the right way" because "it's always been fine for me". This stops them trying new things.

I can see that argument, but I also disagree. Sufficent is not optimal. You can almost always improve where you are with a change. Admittedly, you are also increasing your risk of failure and this often puts people off. I would suggest that if you constantly are looking for ways to improve you will be well up on the deal in the long run. As another saying goes; you have to speculate to accumulate.

So what does this look like?

The list goes on. I would encourage you to think through some things and have the confidence to try. With such tough competition for places, can you afford to cruise?

Listening to your coach

I read an interview with English wicketkeeper Joss Buttler recently where he said he had many good and influential coaches who helped him a great deal, yet easily his best coach was himself.

This wasn't hubris. This is true for everyone. It's a sentiment you hear from so many top players and coaches the evidence is overwhelming. The days of the coach telling you the one right way to do things are gone.

If you have a coach who tells you the correct way to do something you might get lucky and his method matches the way you play. But what if it doesn't? What if you lead with your feet into a drive when the coach insists you lead with your head? Techniques and mental make ups do differ greatly enough to mean that the copybook can only ever apply to a small percentage of cricketers.

Of course, you should be respectful of your coach. Yet, you should also question his theories and practices. Find out why he is doing something. It may be that his method is not for you after trying it. Have the confidence to speak up and forge your own path. It's your career, your body, your mind.

Good coaches are energised by players challenging them. They will challenge you right back. You will have great fun finding out who's ideas are better.

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Neurotic, Extroverted or Stubborn: Training Motivation for Everyone

We all have parts of our personalities we like and dislike. What's great is that whatever your personality, you can use it to motivate yourself to train better harder and longer.

And you know what that means: More runs and wickets!

You might be lucky and be the sort of person who loves training and playing all the time. This type of person tends to have an orderly, organised mind and high levels of resilience to call upon during hard and boring parts of training. Although that's not always the case.

But what if you are not like that? What if you have some barriers to training?

How Senior Players Can Easily Support Young Blood

Your club needs young blood to run through its veins.

If you want first team superstars you need people in your club to support youngsters through the lower teams until they develop.

So often it’s left to the dedicated few ex-players who have moved into coaching. Rich clubs can provide decent facilities, but it’s time that is much more valuable than money.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


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Issue: 339
Date: 2014-12-26