"We've just arrived back in the US. The boys wanted to tell you how much they enjoyed cricket camp this year. Thomas says that he'd much rather grow up in England so that he could play on a cricket team."

Sonia Kingshott

General Cricket Coaching Advice for Children

How To Become A Better Cricketer (Top)

A simple 10 point checklist showing common sense ways to improve that any young or aspiring cricketer would do well to follow.

  1. Talk to experienced players - So many young players leave as soon as a game finishes. Instead, make a beeline for the older players at the bar and listen to what they have to say about the game - you'll hear a wealth of knowledge and sound advice all for free.
  2. Individual tuition - Get some high-quality individual coaching where there's nobody for the coach to worry about apart from you.
  3. Play as much as you can - All the nets in the world won't prepare you for the reality of a match situation. Learn how to play cricket by playing in matches - you'll find out a lot about yourself as well as making mistakes that will teach you valuable lessons.
  4. Practice as you play - Take your practice sessions seriously and make them as close to a real game as you can. Be strict on your no-balling at nets and during fielding practice, attack the ball as if your life depends on it.
  5. Work by yourself - You don't need anyone else to practice certain cricketing skills.
  6. Bowl sets of 6 balls in a net by yourself or work on picking up balls and throwing down the stumps.
  7. Learn from the best players at your club - The best cricketer in your club or school 1st XI will likely be a good role model for you. If you have a first class player or top batsman at your club, watch how he goes about his net sessions.
  8. Don't let fitness hold you back - Regardless of your ability to bat or bowl well, every player has it within themselves to be physically fit. Keep working at your fitness - it's far easier to become a good cricketer if you're an athlete than the other way round.
  9. Work out what you do well - Trial and error will tell you what your cricketing strengths are. Once you've worked out what you do well, stick to it and improve your weaknesses so they don't cause you as many problems.
  10. Practice & repeat - The more you do something the better you become. When you're learning new skills such as bowling an outswinger or playing the straight drive, you'll only get better by doing it. Mistakes are part and parcel of the learning curve.
  11. Watch the professionals on tv- Spend a day watching the best players in the world go about their business. You'll pick up a host of good habits and technical help.


Improving Your Bowling (Top)

Bowling can be a difficult skill to master but you can really improve by following these simple principles. First things first - get a good basic 2 finger grip on top of the ball with your thumb underneath. When practising concentrate on your bowling action first - your run up can come later. Try to bowl from a relatively sideways position gathering both your arms up to your head - Glenn McGrath is a good example to follow.

When bowling make full use of your front arm towards your target and with your bowling arm, look to release the ball as high as possible - 12 o'clock on the clock face. Keep your eyes focused on where you want the ball to land from the beginning of your run up right through to your follow through.

Cricket balls hurt your hands? (Top)

It's very common for young players who are making the transition from softball cricket using a tennis or kwik ball to struggle when faced with catching and playing against a real cricket ball. The key is to get your hands, and your mind, used to playing with a hard ball. Try throwing an old cricket ball from one hand to the other for 1 minute. This will 'toughen up' your hands and make the feel of the ball less daunting. When you're comfortable with that, do the same thing but with a newer, harder ball.

Make sure when you're catching or fielding a real cricket ball to relax your hands and 'give' with the ball where possible - if you have stiff arms and rock solid hands it will make your job a lot more difficult.

Should I bowl fast or bowl spin? (Top)

Many young players struggle to decide whether they should be a seam bowler or a spinner, usually because they are good at both. If you're having this problem, try to work out which feels the more natural and suits your physical shape. If you are tall and strong, there's a good chance you'll make a fast bowler whereas if your seam bowling is only medium pace and you don't move the ball much, spin might be the better option.

However, there are no set rules in bowling and there have been some very good smallish fast bowlers such as Darren Gough and Makhaya Ntini, whilst Ashley Giles and Anil Kumble are both well over 6ft tall. In time you'll learn which style of bowling will give you the best chance of succeeding, til then - enjoy doing both!

Peter Wellings' coaching has really improved my game this season and has resulted in my getting 5 individual awards. In 2002 I scored 789 runs at an average of 21 but in 2003 I scored 1685 runs at an average of 37. I scored 3 hundreds and became the youngest ever centurion in senior cricket at Ealing. Although my overall technique improved, I think my mental strength has been the key to being more successful and Wello has been a big help in that.

Anand Ashok Ealing CC & Surrey U15's

How to Set Your Field (Top)

Most younger players are introduced to cricket through shorter versions of the game such as 20 over matches. As a bowler, getting your field right in these situations is absolutely crucial. Here are some tips to ensure you make the most of any wicket taking opportunities you create and minimise the amount of runs you concede.

  1. Put a fielder on the Leg Side Boundary - Over 50% of all boundaries hit in junior cricket (14 years and below) are from the pull shot and leg side hits. If you're playing a 20 over game, you should always begin with a 'sweeper' on the square leg boundary.
  2. FFF & SSS. This is a really simple concept. FFF - The FASTER the bowler, the FASTER the wicket, the FINER the field (FFF). If you're a quick bowler on a lively wicket, there is a high probability that the ball will catch the outside edge and go behind square on either the leg or off side. Set your field accordingly. SSS The SLOWER the bowler, the SLOWER the wicket, the SQUARER the field. If you're a spinner bowling slowly with plenty of flight, it's far more likely that the batsman will hit the ball in front of the wicket towards mid-off, mid-on and deep midwicket. Make sure you place your fielders where the ball is likely to be hit.
  3. Put good fielders where they're needed - Every side has its good and bad fielders so it's important to place your better fielders where the ball is more likely to go. For quicker bowlers, backward point, third man and extra-cover are crucial whilst for spinners, your better fielders should be in the 'umbrella' between midwicket, mid-on, mid-off and extra cover.
  4. Each fielder must be doing a job - Too many junior sides have their fielders spread out with no real purpose. Make sure all 9 of your fielders are doing a job. To make this easier, think of the following roles:
    • Close Catchers (Slip, man on the drive)
    • Saving 1 (No more than 20 metres from the bat)
    • On the boundary (Ideally saving 2 but sometimes it's more important that boundaries are prevented. Third man and fine leg are often set too close for young fast bowlers and should be on the boundary for instance)
  5. Split your field according to your bowling style - If you're a fast bowler aiming at off-stump, the ball is far more likely to be hit on the off side. A 6-3 field (6 fielders on the off, 3 on the leg) might be appropriate with slip, 3rd man, gully, point, extra-cover and mid-off on the off side and fine leg, square leg and mid-on on the on side. For an off spinner bowling to a right hander, the ball is more likely to go on the on side so a 5-4 onside field would work with backward square (or 45 as some players call it), deep square leg, square leg, mid-wicket and mid-on on the onside and slip, point, extra-cover and mid-off on the offside.

Once you've worked out your bowling style, experience will help you work out what your best field is and you should memorise both an attacking and defensive field to right and left handers alike using this simple philosophy:

If I'm bowling well, where is the ball more likely to go? This will assist you greatly since it's never a good idea to set a field for bad bowling.

10 meals to give you all the energy you need before a match (Top)

To perform at your best, your body needs good fuel to run on and your choice of food is very important in ensuring you have plenty of energy. A good, wholesome breakfast is the ideal way of getting some proper food into your system and is essential if you want to make the most of your cricketing ability.

If that isn't possible, make sure you enjoy a sizeable lunch containing lots of complex carbohydrates such as pasta or potatoes and avoid fatty and sugary foods.

You may require some late calories before a game in the form of a packet of crisps or chocolate bar but this should be seen as a last resort. If you eat any of the following meals on the day of your match, you'll be guaranteeing your body a constant supply of high-quality energy throughout the day.

  1. Beans on toast
  2. Oats, bananas, sunflower seeds and milk
  3. Banana sandwich on wholemeal bread
  4. Baked potato, tuna and salad
  5. Ham & cheese sandwich with salad and pickle on wholemeal bread
  6. Pasta
  7. Spaghetti bolognaise
  8. Cauliflower cheese
  9. Fruit smoothie made from fruits such as strawberries, grapes, kiwi, banana, apples topped with pine nuts
  10. Porridge

My own personal favourite is a big bowl of oats, bananas, grapes, sunflower seeds and semi-skimmed milk for breakfast. I bowl seam as well as batting and try to throw myself around in the field and at my age (38), I need all the assistance I can get to enable me to play in an active fashion.


Coaching Cricket Excellence

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