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Thread: County Youth Cricket: A Blueprint

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    County Youth Cricket: A Blueprint

    I know that there are plenty of members here who have been part of representative squads at any number of levels, and it's really you guys who I'm looking to aim the content of this thread at.

    As of yesterday, I'm the manager of Oxfordshire County Under 10s. I've run club and district rep sides before, but this is my first time at the top level. What I want to take is ideas for what makes (and what doesn't make) a well-run County side, from match-day procedure, pre-season games, aims, paperwork, stat tracking, anything - on the field, or off.

    I want to make this side work as well as it possibly can, and I'm sure that there are is a massive amount of experience out there that can help me make this happen.
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Mr Mxyzptlk's Avatar
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    Under-10 is too young to be playing serious sport IMO. But that's another topic. Congratulations and good luck, Mr. Pickup.
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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mxyzptlk View Post
    Under-10 is too young to be playing serious sport IMO. But that's another topic. Congratulations and good luck, Mr. Pickup.
    Agree with all the sentiments.

    During my time in South Africa, a school I was at stopped sending sending U10, U11 and U12 Provincial trialists. Collectively we decided that anything below U13 was too competetive and wasnt a fair reflection of how a child would progress at a later age.

    If I was to give 1 piece of advice that is key to dealing with representitive sides (and 1 of the reasons we thought it inappropriate for such young children), it is deal with the intensity of the parents.

    Children only want rep cricket at 9 years old because their parents or a relative wants it for them. Its key to properly communcate with the driving force behind these teams.

    Create a document that highlights what the aims of the team are. So when Daddy storms over and asks why 9 yr old little Tommy has been dropped for Jeff when Tommy averages 9 more with the bat, you can point to the reasons behind the team.

    What you write is upto you, but I think its key to express there are more things to learn about the game than just crushing the opponent at 9 yrs old.

    People think Im overly detailed as I produce a document for players and parents of every team I coach. However, IMO, its iimportant, especially further up the ladder and with such young children (whos parents will do their communication for them), to have everything detailed and explained from the start.

    Again congratulations (its nice to be recognised) and all the best. Im sure you will enjoy it.

    Keep the cricket as fun and exciting as possible but the admin and organisation (paperwork, arrival times etc) as structured as possible. The 2 aspects are for different people (children and parents) and you will never be in a tough spot if you clearly tell parents what, where and when clearly and with authority.
    Last edited by Goughy; 21-03-2008 at 12:06 PM.
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    Banned sideshowtim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mxyzptlk View Post
    Under-10 is too young to be playing serious sport IMO. But that's another topic. Congratulations and good luck, Mr. Pickup.
    Poor attitude IMO, and one reason England falls so far behind in developing good young kids. Instill in the kids a strong work ethic and give them plenty of discipline from a young age and they have the 2 tools they need to succeed in cricket for the rest of their life. The sport being purely for "fun" thing might be true for muckaround leagues, but if we're talking junior County Cricket here, these kids obviously want cricket to be a part of their lives. Get 'em from a young age.


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    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    I played Kent U9 and U11 and the fact was that it was a horrible experience full of spoilt children and their parents who practically ran the whole thing. I was picked for an U12 game which got rained off and I never heard from them again.
    The speed at which a fielding team gets through the innings is overrated.

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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sideshowtim View Post
    Poor attitude IMO, and one reason England falls so far behind in developing good young kids. Instill in the kids a strong work ethic and give them plenty of discipline from a young age and they have the 2 tools they need to succeed in cricket for the rest of their life. The sport being purely for "fun" thing might be true for muckaround leagues, but if we're talking junior County Cricket here, these kids obviously want cricket to be a part of their lives. Get 'em from a young age.
    I may respond to this post later rather than take the thread off topic so early.
    Last edited by Goughy; 21-03-2008 at 12:13 PM.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Communication is obviously the key. Having been on the fringes of the county setup through players I coached, I had a number of reasons to be frustrated with the way that it worked - mainly as I never really had any idea why certain players were in, or others out. Obviously what followed were allegations of bias etc, etc.

    I know that every time I picked an Exeter player for East Devon, I was always nagging myself whether I'd picked him for cricketing reasons or not. I know the same feeling will recur whenever I select a Dragon or a Bicester player for Oxfordshire. It's sound advice, Goughy, and some that I will follow. Is it just a code of conduct and mission statement so to speak, or anything more than that?

    As for age, most football clubs in this country take their first Centre of Excellence intakes at Under-7...

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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Mr Mxyzptlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sideshowtim View Post
    Poor attitude IMO, and one reason England falls so far behind in developing good young kids. Instill in the kids a strong work ethic and give them plenty of discipline from a young age and they have the 2 tools they need to succeed in cricket for the rest of their life. The sport being purely for "fun" thing might be true for muckaround leagues, but if we're talking junior County Cricket here, these kids obviously want cricket to be a part of their lives. Get 'em from a young age.
    Nah. It's been shown in football that children don't benefit from playing competitively that young. I don't see why it would be any different in cricket. It's not about how young they start playing serious sport. It's about how young they develop a passion for the sport at all. Once there's passion at that age, it should be fine. They shouldn't have to think about being matchwinners for a couple years yet. Can develop skills perfectly well without serious results and pressure coming into play. Outside of pro sport there's no other situation in life where there's a demand for children to be exposed to pressure situations so young.

    "Fun" is at the heart of all sports, and anyone who thinks otherwise has lost sight of the entertainment factor. Kids should have fun playing cricket. Later they can learn to apply win-loss ratios and tactics to that base.

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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Mr Mxyzptlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup View Post
    As for age, most football clubs in this country take their first Centre of Excellence intakes at Under-7...
    And English football is brilliant because of it? SkySports did a brief investigative documentary on this, considering that more successful footballing nations don't start kids on serious XI-per-side sport that young.

    Sorry for going off-topic though. I couldn't resist.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Mxyzptlk View Post
    And English football is brilliant because of it? SkySports did a brief investigative documentary on this, considering that more successful footballing nations don't start kids on serious XI-per-side sport that young.

    Sorry for going off-topic though. I couldn't resist.
    XI/side is not played till U11.

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    Hall of Fame Member Goughy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup View Post
    Communication is obviously the key. Having been on the fringes of the county setup through players I coached, I had a number of reasons to be frustrated with the way that it worked - mainly as I never really had any idea why certain players were in, or others out. Obviously what followed were allegations of bias etc, etc.

    I know that every time I picked an Exeter player for East Devon, I was always nagging myself whether I'd picked him for cricketing reasons or not. I know the same feeling will recur whenever I select a Dragon or a Bicester player for Oxfordshire. It's sound advice, Goughy, and some that I will follow. Is it just a code of conduct and mission statement so to speak, or anything more than that?

    As for age, most football clubs in this country take their first Centre of Excellence intakes at Under-7...
    Id include expectations of parents and players. Eg All parents and players are expected to treat teammates, opposition, officials and coaches with respect. Narrow enough to nail someone that is being a pain, but broad enough to allow a lot of leway in where you decide to fight your battles.

    Id breakdown what are the key components of progressing as a cricketer at a young age.

    Detail why certain decisions will be made. Eg There will be no set batting positions. We firmly believe that at this young age children should be exposed to as many different situations and experiences. No child will be pigeon holed at this early stage of their development. etc. This crucially deflects potential criticism

    When I do it I try to make it clear that I am the boss and I know what I am doing. This is essential, there have been times that Ive been really unsure but its vital to be clear and confident.

    As for comparing it to football, the comparison doesnt work but thats for another day. The structures of youth participation is different as is how the skills of the game are learnt.

    After every game I write a match report/summary. Something I go through with the players but I fully expect parents to read as well. I spell out clearly what is expected. Always have 1 more positive than negative from the game and dont specifically mention bad things from specific individuals.

    I also dont give MoMs unless it is unavoidable eg someone scoring 105* out of 140 or someone taking 7 wickets. I dont agree with young players competing for attention and praise. It should come naturally. Giving MoMs makes 10 disappointed kids and it is essentially a team game. I found not giving MoMs unless in extreme circumstances allowed the boys to work closer together and relax more as their worth isnt defined by their achievements. Again with parents, they want to know why so and so was MoM rather than their boy. It makes life far easier not to have them.
    Last edited by Goughy; 21-03-2008 at 12:40 PM.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Woodster's Avatar
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    Agree with a lot of the advice handed out already. Think it is crucial to ensure enjoyment is the main objective. Talk of discipline is for the future for now, you don't want to lose any interest the youngsters have in the sport. I am not suggesting let them do everything as they please, of course everybody needs guidelines, but with respect to the cricket - enjoyment and enhancement of their pleasure in playing cricket can only aid progression.

    As you already know, try and ensure the players picked deserve their place in the representative side and not because of what club they play for. Something I also endured during my junior levels, I was fortunate enough to play for my county as a kid, but there was an obvious difference between me and the others, ie I did not play for a posh enough side. Cricket snobbery most certainly exists in the young with the guidance of their parents. If you can involve all the players and make them all feel as though they belong, that can also only help with the performances and spirit in the side. Otherwise kids will not want to play for your side and find any excuse not to go.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sideshowtim View Post
    Poor attitude IMO, and one reason England falls so far behind in developing good young kids.
    Well, England do have Under-10s. It's just that said poster doesn't want them.

    Ftr, the Aussies haven't done better than England at U-19 cricket since 2003. It seems to me that Australia excel at getting people with the nut for international cricket to become top cricketers - through academy structures, competitive domestic competition at most levels, making guys work for their place - not their youth setup per se.

    Oh, oops. To the question at hand. I agree with Liam - it's too young, so don't make the stats bit too obvious, it'll just dull their brains out. I would think doing it like a well-run club, as you have experience with already, would probably be the best (though you've obviously got a bit more talent, the principle should be the same) - plan training sessions and whatnot in advance, concentrate on getting cricket skills right in practice, don't worry too much about results. The county might exonerate you but the guys will probably learn more from it in the long run. (and as you already know, I'm talking out of my ****)
    Last edited by Samuel_Vimes; 21-03-2008 at 03:04 PM.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Long time since this thread... and oh, how right so many of you are...

    Have come back this evening from the Malvern College U10 festival and, with it, finally beaten an eight-year-old monkey to death by winning a County match for the very first time, beating Norfolk by three wickets to make history.

    What made things so good about today, and about the week, is that by the end of it we had a team, not two cliques of private school boys and state school boys, but of Oxfordshire boys who all celebrated spotaneously together when we managed to slice the winning runs behind point.

    There were a few individual moments of massive reward into the bargain. Our leggie recorded the ridiculous figures of 8-4-4-3 today, having bowled mainly long hops in the previous two days: this morning I did a 30-minute concentrated session with him (adapted from some Terry Jenner stuff actually, so I may have to concede the bloke a point or two there). Then there was the bit that I wouldn't even put in one of my stories - with one of the smallest, shyest boys in the group, who had been nervous about the whole idea of touring, showing an unbelievable amount of bottle and determination to turn himself from one of the weakest batsmen in the group to a matchwinner. He made 34 yesterday in a valiant defeat to Shropshire (we had them 88-8, they made 176-9, of which 83 were extras... we fell 7 short), then today, coming in at 63/3 after three rapid wickets, he was there at the end, unbeaten on 26.

    I'm sure several people will be very amused by my twitter feed from the week at npickup (npickup) on Twitter - which, on re-reading, looks concerningly like the increasingly desperate ramblings of a man slowly losing his grip on his sanity.

    Today has been one of the best days, if not the best, of my coaching life.

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