How To Step Up A Level
This time of year sees club cricketers going on holiday, giving a chance to young or second string players to go up a level and make a name.
Yet, moving up to a higher standard is difficult.
For example, this season we have had several new boys come into the side to see how they fare. None have been an overnight explosion of success. Technically, tactically and even emotionally they are behind.
However, the ones with potential all have similar traits:
Be ready to learn
As soon as you move up a level you will be in an unusual situation. There are huge chances to learn and gain experiences you would not have got lower down the ladder.
So look for them right from the start.
You may be a successful batsman who is brought up and told to bat at 8. Of course this is not ideal, but it's also a chance. You can show your ability to bat with the tail or finish a run chase.
You can talk to good cricketers and learn how they play and practice, especially if you get to net with them, or even better, get one as a batting buddy.
These things shows the coach, captain and other senior players that you are willing to put in some effort to make it.
If you do this, it becomes less important whether you succeed or fail in these early days. Key people will start to say you have a "good attitude" and you are given more rope, more time and more opportunities.
Good coaches and captains are always impressed by players who give opinions. This can be hard to do in a new team where you are the most junior - especially if you have a quiet personality - but you can always find a way.
Ask questions of senior players. You can ask why a field is set a certain way. You can even challenge a coach about why he is asking you to make a technical or tactical change. It's easy to do this in a non-confrontational, curious manner. It shows you are being mindful.
It's also crucial to ask for feedback. Say you are dropped after one game, rather than wait for the captain to explain, seek him out and ask what you need to do to get back in the team now he has seen you play. It shows a willingness to work hard, improve and fit into the team unit.
Be an athlete
There is a boy who plays in the team I coach who is technically behind the better players. However, in the short time he has played he has done 2 things:
- Improved his technique
- Shown his general athleticism
If you are making the jump up, both of these are born from your fitness. If you are strong, fast and mobile with good body awareness, you will be given more chances at a higher level.
You will be able to bowl faster, hit harder and field better than other players with whom you compete. You will also have fewer injuries.
But sometimes an overlooked benefit of getting fitter is that you learn how your body moves, and so you are able to pick up and hone techniques quickly.
This is a trait of good cricketers and any coach will be impressed by a player who has learned from their coaching sessions (frankly, it's good for the coaches ego).
So take time to do the right kind of athletic development and strength training as it pays off many times over when you get the call.
Making a jump up in levels is about far more than your ability to score runs or take wickets; at least at first.
If you take the right approach you will be given more chances to score those runs and take those wickets.
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