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Thread: Coaching Mental Strength, Application, Blocking Things Out

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Coaching Mental Strength, Application, Blocking Things Out

    Interesting one here (well, I think it is, anyway).

    We've got an under 12 all-rounder, good player, but could be so much better if he wasn't so easily influenced/distracted by other goings-on around him. Yesterday we were 109-3 needing 110 to win with 2 overs to go. Easy... just put the ball in the gap and let's go home, you'd think. But no.

    The bowler bowled a fairly appalling delivery (short, slow, bounced twice), and he just hit it straight back up in the air to the bowler. Okay, one aberration we can let go. Next ball, same delivery, same shot, same outcome.

    By now, the other boys on the boundary were shouting, "come on, hit a six", and that wasn't helping either. I told the non-striker to go and have a word and calm him down... third ball, same ball, same shot, and caught this time.

    The whole mental side of the game is usually something I have a reasonable degree of success in working on with kids, but I'm struggling here to try to get onto his wavelength and take some steps to combat the fact that he's his own worst enemy a lot of the time.

    Latest thing I've thought up is trying a bit of a comparison between him and Andy Flintoff in terms of injudicious shot selection (viz trying to hit Ramnaresh Sarwan into the Atlantic) as a bit of a permanent boost to fragile confidence.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited by Rich2001; 21-06-2004 at 02:34 PM. Reason: Changed the title so that the frontpage doesn't keep getting out of line with the long title
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    International Captain Swervy's Avatar
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    under 12's !!!!!! I would concentrate on the technical side of things to be honest...if he is that way inclined and wants to take the game seriously I would say that in the next 2 years he may mature mentally and settle down.

    he already has a great head start if he has the talent.

    Maybe find out what he wants to do with the game in the future and take it from there.

    If shot selection is a problem, set targets in practice for him (say 12 balls,10 runs to win), by getting kids to bowl to him with you 'umpiring' and if any shot he goes for is in effect the wrong one for the situation(you need to be the judge,and therefore you will need go knowledge of the right shot to be played to which ever ball) ,dont award any runs....pretty soon he will start getting the idea,and that should translate in to match situations.

    But hey I am no expert
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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    WRT mentality coaching with kids - by the time that they reach this age their personalities are already fairly strongly apparent, and 'changes' are much more easily made now than in a couple of years' time.

    The whole countdown target practice thing is done to death a lot of the time, and I've never really seen it as much more than an excuse to swing the bat. However, I quite like the idea of zeroes if the shot's wrong... but there's no such thing as a 'right' shot depending on the field. Stupid game!

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    Soutie Langeveldt's Avatar
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    Neil, i feel your pain... I train with a few guys who are 14-16 who kind of look up to me as a senior pro.. Well I might as well be speaking Swahili at a brick wall when I tell them to do things such as

    "We only need 4 an over, get your head down, find the gaps, dont try to hit the ball too hard and get me on strike"

    "Keep your head, don't try to bowl to quick and let the batsman make the mistakes. You spray it around when you bowl too quick"

    TBH you need to sit these guys down in front of Gary Kirsten or some good batsmen at the top of your club.. The ones who sit and watch and learn are worth speaking to and improving.. The ones who get bored should stick to aspiring to be the next Dwayne Smith (sorry liam )

    Sod 20/20 and its corrupting influence...

    Id be interested in your opinions, im in the same situation....
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    U19 Cricketer Tony Blade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup
    Yesterday we were 109-3 needing 110 to win with 2 overs to go. Easy... just put the ball in the gap and let's go home, you'd think. But no.
    Yep, not too difficult
    I think, therefore I am.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Langeveldt
    TBH you need to sit these guys down in front of Gary Kirsten or some good batsmen at the top of your club.. The ones who sit and watch and learn are worth speaking to and improving.. The ones who get bored should stick to aspiring to be the next Dwayne Smith (sorry liam )

    Sod 20/20 and its corrupting influence...
    I guess you won't approve of the trip we've organised to a Twenty20 game next month, then?!

    The point you raise is interesting... but it doesn't help in this case. I've had a few chats with him about various cricket-related issues and he's obviously got a good interest in the game. I think we're one "watershed" away from a significant step in the right direction (à la Butcher's 173* or Harmo's 7-12), and I thought that we were getting that yesterday, but it's going to have to wait until Sidmouth on Thursday...

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    International Captain Swervy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup
    WRT mentality coaching with kids - by the time that they reach this age their personalities are already fairly strongly apparent, and 'changes' are much more easily made now than in a couple of years' time.

    The whole countdown target practice thing is done to death a lot of the time, and I've never really seen it as much more than an excuse to swing the bat. However, I quite like the idea of zeroes if the shot's wrong... but there's no such thing as a 'right' shot depending on the field. Stupid game!
    fair points.....

    as you say 12 years old learn and change quickly and I am sure if this kid has it in him he will learn from his mistakes himself.

    from your initial post, it appears that it is the shot selection that is the problem,a skill which is probably the toughest to master.Whether that be a mental issue I dont know, maybe he just had a bad couple of balls and cocked up, like we all do occasionally.

    The more times this kid is in these tight situations the more times he will adapt correctly (if he has anything about him that is),and that is why in a non-match situation the good old 2 overs and so many to win in a mock match set up can be a good thing...as long as it is done in an imaginative way with genuine reward for success

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    The shot selection is just a symptom of a deeper problem of being generally easily overwhelmed emotionally, I reckon.

    It's not difficult to see a lot of the time that everything that's going on is having a huge effect on him. It's like Ramprakash to the power six, you can sense that one poor ball/slip in the field/indifferent shot is the potential for self-induced disaster...

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    Soutie Langeveldt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup
    I guess you won't approve of the trip we've organised to a Twenty20 game next month, then?!

    The point you raise is interesting... but it doesn't help in this case. I've had a few chats with him about various cricket-related issues and he's obviously got a good interest in the game. I think we're one "watershed" away from a significant step in the right direction (à la Butcher's 173* or Harmo's 7-12), and I thought that we were getting that yesterday, but it's going to have to wait until Sidmouth on Thursday...
    Its a catch 22 situation..
    Fantastic that you can take them to the 20-20.. Is it at Taunton btw? But a day at the championship would benifit them more, obviously.. problem is they wouldnt actually be watching much of it.. Low attention spans etc..

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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    It is at Taunton (I think it's the Northampton game on the 15th)... unfortunately I won't be going because I'll be in Holland somewhere being taught how to manage disruptive kids in the Eurocamp Kids Clubs.

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    Soutie Langeveldt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Pickup
    It is at Taunton (I think it's the Northampton game on the 15th)... unfortunately I won't be going because I'll be in Holland somewhere being taught how to manage disruptive kids in the Eurocamp Kids Clubs.
    you just told me that

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    State Regular PommieMacGill's Avatar
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    Maybe it's just me, I mean yes I agree with everything people have said and Neil, your idea about giving these youngsters role-models and making them look at certain scenarios such as Butchers 173* and Harmisons 7-12 etc but from a personal point of view if these guys are playing Under-12's cricket surely they should just learn to enjoy the game and enjoy being out there playing?

    It's all well and good sitting them all down and talking to them but at 12 years old i'd suggest that you should just let them learn from their mistakes and not weigh them down with all this stuff about how to play certain scenarios and stuff. Personally, i think that at this age enjoyment is foremost after all, everybody who plays cricket at whatever level plays because they enjoy playing Cricket. I think you can put too many things into a young guys mind that makes them think that Cricket is more serious than it should be, it could even put them off of playing. So, i'd suggest letting these guys at 12 or so years of age play and enjoy it. I think you can start looking at the technical and mental side of cricket when the lads are about 14-15 and they have matured and played enough cricket to want to learn about the other sides to the marvelous game that is cricket.

    Just my opinions, different people will have different approaches but that is the way I would go.

    Regards,

    Lee
    Last edited by PommieMacGill; 21-06-2004 at 04:27 PM.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member / Global Moderator Neil Pickup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PommieMacGill
    If these guys are playing Under-12's cricket surely they should just learn to enjoy the game and enjoy being out there playing?
    Yup... if only life were that simple.

    For most of the kids in the side I wouldn't think about mental toughness (although nearly every thing that you say and do around them has to be thought through... over 70% of communication is non-verbal and it does show). The thing is, this problem has for me started to impact on the game - I reckon I'm a pretty good reader of peoples' temperaments and I'm usually fairly dialled in to what the right place and time is for intervention.

    There's no point in doing anything if you get no fun out of it, but there's equally little point in cricket it if you learn nothing from it. The key is to get the balance right, and it's a very, very difficult line to tread as a coach.

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    International 12th Man deeps's Avatar
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    One important point... When he got out, was he disappointed? not just disappointed for getting out, but because of the situation he got out and HOW you got ouT? you can always tell on a batsman's face if they're "extra" disappointed. If he wasn't, then i'd say he's not ready for the lessons...He doesn't care enough at this stage,and maybe never will

    If he did care, THEN you have something to work with.

    When a batsman gets out to a stupid shot,there's two ways to treat it.
    1) Encourage him,and say it's alright,whilst pointing out that it shoudln't happen again
    2) Put him down, let him know how stupid he is, and how he's letting the team down (make sure it's not a fragile person though)

    choice 2 should be used with caution, and in extreme circumstances.. If the above kid has had this problem before, maybe that was the right situation... say something like


    "you only needed 4 an over, and all you had to do was hit the one bad ball an over and we would have won. Because of you going after the short bad ball THREE times, our team is struggling..Why didn't you just leave that balL"

    make him feel somewhat responsible, so that he does something about it

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    International Captain Swervy's Avatar
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    I have to agree with PommieMacGill on this one,for under 12 players,I think the best thing to do is let him learn from his mistakes,but not really coach him in it

    I remember when I played U-11 cricket in Brisbane, our team was brand new and a lot of kids had never played the game before,let alone in matches.My dad was the coach,and yet we only occassionally were coached in the classic sense of the word...a lot of the 'training' we did just emphisized the importance of team work,and getting a lot of enjoyment out of the training and then the games, we learnt from our mistakes.

    In no time, we went from a team of individuals to a proper little cohesive unit,not bothered about personal scores etc...soon everyone felt we each had a part to play in the outcome of the game...we soon became a pretty hot little team.

    I would personally let the kid learn from the mistake himself, he will soon catch on (if he really wants to). Problem is that these young kids can soon have their confidence knocked.

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