Quick Tip: How Old Can You Spot Talent? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Quick Tip: How Old Can You Spot Talent?

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Richard, a doting father, has written in with a question:

My 7 year old son trains at county level with the 7-10 group but one of the coaches have asked if he would like to train with the 11-13 year old players. He lives and breathes cricket and has been training since he was 3. At what age do you think someone has potential?

If I could answer that with any accuracy I would be a rich man!

However, there are some things you can do to spot talent early, even if they are not reliable or scientific.

The first is to establish the right frame: You can't tell if a 7 year old is going to play for his country. But you can compare him to others at the same age.

Can he run, jump, throw and catch? Is he fast and agile for his age? These are basic physical traits you can both see and develop.

Does he play 2-3 other sports, and is able to pick up the basics quickly?

More specific to cricket, does he bats, fields and bowls better than his group? Then he may be good enough to come up against older players.

That's showing talent.

As he progresses through the system, and becomes more serious he will need to show another trait of talented players: Determination in the face of difficulties and distractions

That's not easy to spot in a 7 year old, but are clear to see in a 13 year old and beyond. At that age, a players character becomes more important. How does he handle failure? How does he handle success?

In short, talent is a complex thing that requires the ability to learn fast, technical skill, mental determination, luck and confidence. So give the 7 year old a break and let him play at a level that challenges and excites him. Be a supportive Dad and do your best not to get in the way of his path (which you probably will, that's sort of the deal).

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ALL children have potential! Unfortunately it is impossible to say how far that will go at the age of 7... HOWEVER... there are identifiable 'traits' of excellence.

Notwithstanding, I do have some issues with 7 year olds training with guys of 13. I would not say it is a definite no but, developmentally, it really does needs special attention. A 7 year old is NOT a small 13 year old [as a 13 year old is not a small adult!] Even if the 7 year old was 'better' at batting, bowling and fielding than the general 13 year old he will have different issues and needs. I certainly would not like to see a 7 year old batsman face a 13 year old fast!! Is it then fair to ask the 13 year old fast to temper his own development for the 7 year old?

It also depends on what 'training' means but I would have thought training with 10 year olds was a good enough stretching of the lad's talents.

You don't want to be too talented, you will show up your teammates and England will be forced to exclude you.