Lighter nights, warmer days and flowers blooming everywhere.
When spring arrives around these parts pre-season training begins in earnest.
How can you make the most of this critical period in your preparation?
1. Set some goals
A big part of success in cricket is knowing what "success" looks like, and planning how you are going to get there. You don't need to be complicated about it. Just write down a few goals you have for the coming season. Make the as specific as possible, realistic challenging but still achievable. It's also important to set goals that are within your control.
2. Plan for quality
Once you have your goals, plan out what you need to do to get to them. If you want to be fitter then your goal might be to do fitness training 3 times a week until the season starts. The plan would involve sitting down and working how how, when and where you will do this training (and how to motivate yourself if you are feeling lazy).
3. Get outdoors
When the sun shines it's good for your body and mind to get out there. You can do speed, agility, strength and power training on any spare bit of grass outdoors or get some people together for a game of park cricket or football. Jumpers for goalposts?
4. Start thinking positive
As the season approaches, its time to focus on your successes. That means noting down the things you did right after each training session and spending a few minutes a day picturing how you will succeed this summer. The psychologists call this visualisation and combined with practice has been proven to improve sport performance.
5. Use nets effectively
It's easy just to turn up, have a bit of a bat and bowl and leave without achieving much. Hopefully your net will be well run, but even if it is not you can still make the net better by planning it out. For example, treating your batting session like an innings or aiming to bowl a certain number of balls in the 'corridor'.
6. Find a training buddy
Fitness training can be hard to get motivated for sometimes. Finding someone on your team who also wants to improve can help you motivate each other.
7. Learn to relax.
If you are tense and worried you don’t perform well. Mark Ramprakash puts his success down to learning to 'being in the moment' and be aware of when he is tensing up. Consider working on your own ability to relax your mind in the middle. This could be tension control, Doing some Yoga or Alexander Technique work or controlling negative thoughts.
8. Balance your training
Good training is a balance. If you just have nets you will not improve as fast as if you combine nets with drills, bowling machines, practice games and fitness work.
Sometimes relaxing is just as important as training too. A small amount of high intensity, quality training beats a lot of undirected and half hearted training hands down.
9. Talk to the skipper
The captain will also be forming his own plans for the season soon. Talk to him and find out what he wants from you this year. If you can, keep up with how he thinks you are doing and if you need to review your role in the team. It means you are not wasting your time trying to do things for which the captain has no need.
by David Hinchliffe, PitchVision Academy
© 2011 miSport Ltd