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Making One Chance Into More: The Example of London School Cricket Association

1 year ago By Greg Mackett

Cricket coaching article

“"It's good to see so many ways to develop players!"” David Hinchcliffe- PitchVision

Check out the Full article from Pitchvision here

One of the biggest frustrations of cricket is missed opportunities. I'm sure you have felt it yourself.

I'm not talking about that half volley you smashed straight to a fielder, or the dropped catch on the boundary that cost the game. I mean missing the chance to make the best of your talents as a player. It happens all the time because of frustrating reasons.
Late developers are overlooked for squad selections and miss the their chance. Players from poor backgrounds can't afford good coaching or equipment and fall behind richer peers. It's awful because he may have as much skill as the next person, it's just they got a foot in the door, and now the door is firmly closed.

All is not lost.

For there are organisations like the London Schools Cricket Association that specialise in going into the fringes, picking out those who have been overlooked and give them the second chance they long for.

And it works. The LSCA have produced many professional players, some of whom - like Graham Gooch and Alex Tudor - have gone on to play for England.

How do they do it?

I spoke to Coach Greg Mackett, to find out more about the LSCA.

Spotting rough diamonds
Greg to me that the key to success was to focus on finding players outside the system. In England, the club system pushes good players into regional age groups and county cricket from 10 years old and up. This system works well for early talents, but can overlook those who take more time to develop.

The LSCA act as a safety net for these players, speaking with clubs and schools and finding out good cricketers who are perhaps not quite up to the standards of their county peers. In other words, they spot the rough diamonds.

Once they are picked up, players get a high level of coaching to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible.

This starts in the winter with an innovative coaching programme based around quickly improving standards. The focus is on developing skills that players can take straight to games in the summer.

Coaching for fast learning
Greg told me that many of the players at the LSCA are just below the top standard but have plenty of talent. They just need to develop a little quicker so they can catch up. They help with this through;

[Setting up games]("5 Steps to Better Junior Club Coaching Sessions | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips"), rather than mindless nets.
Setting clear goals for training sessions, games and phases of the year.
Using nets to practice different match scenarios like opening the innings or hitting at the death.
Using video to provide [instant visual feedback]("The Chris Rock Guide to Deliberate Practice | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips") on things like technique, line and length, and how well the ball was struck.
Asking players, especially bowlers, to identify weaknesses in their team mates game, rather than relying on the coach to have all the answers.
This final point is the cornerstone of developing players quickly. Good coaches are able to communicate with individuals and help them learn for themselves. You learn a lot faster and retain the knowledge better if you have attacked and solved a problem in your own way, rather than simply be told the right way by a coach.

Make the summer count
All this preparation is worthless unless you can carry it to summer matches. So, the LSCA have a fixture list that challenges players beyond their usual club games.

They take on minor county and full county 'B' level teams in games and festivals around England. This added level shows youngsters what it's like to play against better bowlers and batters in long games. When you combine it with the high levels of self awareness developed in the winter, you can see the LSCA are giving those forgotten players a second chance.

So, for the guys at the LSCA, there is nothing better than seeing a youngster move back into the county system from the leg up they have had.

From my conversation with Greg, I had to admire the LSCA'S work. They have found a niche and are helping people gain the chance they desire and deserve. There is a lot that coaches and players around the world can learn from this model.

So if you are a player who feels he has missed his chance, or a coach that wants to develop guys outside the system, maybe you can find - or even found - an LSCA style academy and [make the most of that chance]("Do a Job: How Ordinary Cricket Achieves Spectacular Success | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips").

Updated 12:00 - 29 Dec 2016 by Greg Mackett

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