Kids Cricket Coaching Introduction
Cricket is a fantastic sport for young children to develop great transferable hand eye coordination skills, teamwork and the love for a sport that they can be involved in for a life time. Due to the technical nature of the game it is very important for all children to receive cricket coaching in order to develop good fundamentals that will allow them to excel as accomplished players in game based scenarios. Cricket is a great sport to practice parent and child and as such we aim to give you a variety of activities and tips that you can use as a family to help your child to excel in the sport.
Hand Eye Coordination
Having good hand eye coordination skills forms the basis of all good cricket players and is the first port of call to helping your child to be successful. The beauty of these activities are that they can be learnt on the go on family outings, around the house or during cricket coaching sessions.
Developing a good throwing technique is a skill that is transferable to a wide variety of sports and also mirrors the body movement required for other sports such as tennis and golf. The key here is to help your child to appreciate that throwing is a whole body movement and not just a movement made with the arms and upper body. Here are some of the throwing keys that we instill in our young cricketers
- Stand Side On- Throwing is a side on movement, when starting out a lot of children want to face the target when throwing and this lends itself to an arms only movement. The best way to get your children out of this habit is to tell them to start with the ball away from the target with the none throwing arm closer to the target. Having done this your child will have orientated therir body correctly and will be ready to begin the movement.
- Point At The Target- Lift your none throwing arm and point it to the intended target
- Weight Transfer- If necessary lift the lead foot off the ground before plating it agin to transfer the weight forwards whilst simultaneously twisting the body and extending the arm.
Top Tip- have your child watching baseball pitchers for them to understand the exaggerated whole body movement required to be a powerful thrower. Here’s a video you can use for this in slow motion so that all of the moving parts can be seen:
Catching is a key part of hand eye coordination and is central to every cricketers game. Here are 5 key tips from Centre Wicket to ensure that your child develops the correct technique in this fundamental area of cricket.
- As the ball approaches have a soft gaze on the ball and cushion the ball sequentially with the hands and elbows by extending your arms towards the cricket ball and then giving along its path. For high catches where necessary this give can be extended to the trunk and legs.
- Creating as large a surface area with the hands is very important whether employing a fingers up, cup or reverse cup catching technique the hands should be soft and relaxed rather than rigid and stiff.
- Plant the feet in an athletic position with a slight bend in the knees to allow for quick movement, giving with the catch and a balanced position with the weight on the balls of the feet.
- Catching the ball at eye level wherever possible encourages the player to get in the best position to focus on the ball and make the catch.
- Imagine that there is a bubble surrounding your child’s body. To maximize their chances of catching the ball they should catch the ball within this bubble.
Here a video to give a visual summary of these key points…
Throwing and Catching Based Activities
Here are a series of throwing and catching based games that will help your child to hone the techniques that we discussed in the previous two sections. These are great to play with your child on the beach or at a park either as a family or with friends.
HORSE- Form a circle with a around one or two steps between each player. Players should throw the ball around the circle underarm to other players within their reach. Any player dropping the ball gets a H. The game continues until a player spells HORSE and is out. The game continues until only player is left as the winner.
Four Square- Mark out a roughly 8 step by 8 step square and divide it into 4 quadrants with a player standing in each quadrant. The first player bounces the ball on the floor inside the square and the next player must deflect the ball downwards back into any other quadrant of their choice. The player who catches the ball, misses the ball or deflects it out of the square loses a point. Each player starts out with 5 points, the winning player is the one with the most points when the first player runs out of points. This is a great game for developing soft hands and for predicting the bounce of the ball and as such improving fielding competency.
Chinese Ball- Children form a circle facing to the centre of the circle and toss the ball underarm to each other. The players either side of the player receiving the ball should raise the hand that is closest to the receiver. When the receiver throws the ball to another player the player’s either side can put their hands down. The same points system as in the Four Square game can be used with players losing a life for dropping the ball, poor throws or putting their hand up at the wrong time. This is a great game for fast decision making with passing incorporated.
Improving Depth Perception
Training the eyes to quickly switch between focussing on things that are far away and up close is particularly important in batting and fielding. A great way to do this is to focus on a detailed object such as a book cover that is around 10 inches away and then on something further away (approximately 10 feet is good here). By challenging your child to switch quickly back and forth between the two objects each time trying to identify some new detail about the object this will help your child to develop great attentional focus and depth perception allowing them to better track the ball in flight which is key to being a good batsman and also for being confident catching a high ball in the field.
Developing Quiet Eye
Helping children to develop quiet eye is a very important skill particularly in fielding and bowling. Quiet eye refers to the ability to focussing on a target. This can used to improve performance in catching, batting, throwing or bowling the ball.
The goal of these exercises is to put all focus on as small a target as possible completely focussing on the target just before the task is executed. This helps the subconscious mind to get a ‘feel’ for the target and subsequently allows the body to execute the shot autonomously. When layered on top of good technique this will help children to play their best cricket even when under pressure.
The key to then helping your child apply these skills to a game situation is to encourage them to focus on the target just before bowling and throwing or to focus on the cricket ball just before catching it.
Advanced Kids Cricket Training- The Cradle
For more advanced players the cricket cradle is a great way for children to develop their skills. This wooden concave shaped wooden structure is perfect for helping children to catch balls coming at them more quickly. The shape of the cradle also makes changes the direction of the ball helping children to develop the athletic movement in order to field balls either to the right or the left of them. Here is a video of a wicket keeper using a cricket cradle, although this piece of equipment is perfect for all fielders not just wicket keepers.
The Three Main Aspects Of Kids Cricket Classes
As your children develop hand eye co-ordination it is time to help your children to develop solid fundamentals in the three main aspects of cricket, namely bowling, batting and fielding this will now be looked at individually. This section is comprised of both technical information, tips and activities to help your children to develop strong fundamentals in each of the three core areas.
From our experience in kids sports coaching in Dubai we found that batting is the part of the game that children look forward to the most particularly at a young age. The key with batting and making it enjoyable for children is to make sure that tasks are achievable for children.
Choosing A Bat
A great starting points here is to make sure that your child has the right weight and size of cricket bat. Here’s a chart that you can use to get your child fitted up with the appropriately sized bat:
|BAT SIZE||APPROX. AGE||HEIGHT OF BATSMAN||BAT LENGTH||BAT WIDTH|
|1||4-5 Years Old||Up to 4ft 3inches||25 1/4 inches||3 1/2 inches|
|2||6-7 Years Old||4ft 3″ – 4ft 6″||27 3/4 inches||3 1/2 inches|
|3||8-9 Years Old||4ft 6″ – 4ft 9″||28 3/4 inches||3 3/4 inches|
|4||9-10 Years Old||4ft 9″ – 4ft 11″||29 3/4 inches||3 3/4 inches|
|5||10-11 Years Old||4ft 11″ – 5ft 2″||30 3/4 inches||4 inches|
|6||11-13 Years Old||5ft 2″ – 5ft 5″||31 3/4 inches||4 inches|
|HARROW||12-14 Years Old||5ft 5″ – 5ft 8″||32 3/4 inches||4 1/6 inches|
|FULL SIZE (Short Handle)||15+ Years Old||5ft 8″ – 6ft 3″||33 1/2 inches||4 1/4 inches|
|FULL SIZE (Long Handle/Blade)||15+Years Old||6ft 3″ and above||34 3/8 inches||4 1/4 inches|
Hitting Tee Usage
After you have selected the right cricket bat for your child the best way to help them to gain confidence in their striking abilities and to develop solid technique is to start with a static ball. For the vast majority of young children hitting a moving ball is too much of a challenge to start out with and even for those children that can make contact with the ball it places too much emphasis on the outcome and not enough on the process of developing good technique. The below hitting tees are fantastic particularly for developing forward driving shots with the ball being suspended just a few inches from the ground.
Progressive Bowling Technique
After getting comfortable hitting a static ball you can progress your child to hitting a moving ball. The key here is do adopt a gradually progressive strategy that allows children to get comfortable executing a variety of shots at varying speeds. Here’s the three main strategies that we recommend using to help your child with their batting technique:
Drop Feed: The first phase of hitting a moving ball without the introduction of speed. For this practice stand to the offside of your child and drop the ball from just below chest height. With the absence of movement in the horizontal plain your child will have a higher chance of making contact with the ball. As your child become more consistent you shoukd introduce some basic shots types and help your child to hit them from the appropriate heights:
Straight Drive: Have your child hit this shot when the ball is close to the floor
Cut: Have your child hit this shot from a higher feed when the ball rebounds to around waist height.
Underarm Feeding: The first stage of helping your children to get comfortable hitting a moving ball is an under arm feed. Stand around 8 metres away from your child and aim to land the ball 2-3 metres before your child at a relatively slow pace with the goal of the ball arriving in the hitting area at between shin and waist height.
Thrown Feed Or Bowling: This phase of the batting practice allows your child
Bowling Machine: For more advanced players a bowling machine is a great option for faster bowling and also targeting specific deliveries so that children are able to execute shots. Be sure to set the machine at a speed that your child is comfortable with before gradually increasing the speed, this ensures that the cricket bowling machine can be used as a tool to build rather than erode confidence in your child’s batting ability.
Developing A Broad Range Of Shot Types
In batting there are a large array of shots that an accomplished batsman or women should be able to play. The below diagram gives a visual depiction of all of the zones that different shots should be hit to on the field.
A great way to give your child an understanding of these different shots is to watch a game of cricket or a youtube video focussing on batting. Here is a video of cricket legend Brian Lara’s greatest and most creative batting shots. Here you will see the vast majority of the shots in the diagram above, try to help your child identify which shot is being hit and then chat with your child about why Brian may have chosen to hit that shot based on the delivery of the ball.
When To Hit Each Shot
After familiarising your child with the different types of shots that they can play the next step for them being able to implement these shots is by gaining an understanding of when is the right time to play each shot. Help your child to identify when to play the right shot through the diagram below which gives a great illustration of the different shots to play dependant on . the delivery by the bowler.
If you have the space available in the back garden or if you are able to practice batting with your child in an open space a great way to put this knowledge into practice is by drawing the areas that you see in the diagram above on the ground in front of the wicket, you can then throw or bowl the ball into the different areas telling your child in advance where the ball is going to come and the kind of shots that they should try to hit.
The Basic Bowling Action
Before your child decides on what type of bowler they are going to be it is important that they develop the right action so that they can bowl consistently, to a high standard and to prevent future shoulder injuries. Here we will breakdown the movement into its key parts:
1) The Grip- to start with have your children employ a simple seam grip with the index ginger and middle finger either side of the seam the thumb on the scheme on the underside of the ball.
2) The Run Up- Have your child practice bowling from a series of positions allowing them to figure out their natural run up length, this should be determined by the number of strides to reach the wicket from the starting point. The speed at the end of the run up will vary dependent on bowling style with a fast bowler being at almost full pace compared with a spin bowler that would be moving at a slower jog, the key here is a smooth rhythmical approach
3) The Gather- This is the transition from the run up to the bowling action, it starts with a bound with the bowler leaping off the leg of the lead arm side, leaning back and retracting the ball up towards chin height so that the bowler is in a coiled position ready to transfer the weight to the front foot and deliver the ball.
4)Back Foot Landing- The back foot should land in a stable position with the hips and shoulders aligning to provide a strong and upright body position.
5) Delivery Stride- There should be minimal counter hip rotation and a smooth weight transfer from back foot to front foot towards the target.
6) Lead Foot Landing- The lead foot should land consistently in the same place for every ball, ideally a distance just behind the crueaseline to avoid being penalized with a no ball.
7) Release- The none bowling arm should go from a bent to a straight position with the arm moving towards the wicket. The bowling arm should remain straight throughout the action and the wrist snapping forwards at release for pace bowlers.
8) Follow Through- The bowling arm should move across the body with a smooth rhythm being maintained throughout.
Here’s a supporting video from Cricket Victoria that gives a visual representation of these key elements of a solid bowling action:
The Three Main Types Of Bowling
Fast Bowling: The aim of fast bowling is to beat the batsman with the pace of the ball not giving the batsman enough time to react to the bounce of the ball. For fast bowlers shoulder strength and speed in the run up is key as well as a seamers grip. Some bowlers also adapt the fact bowling technique to become a swing bowler utilizing the shine of the ball to make the ball move in the air to deceive the batsman.
Leg Spin: A leg spinner aims to receive the bowler with a ball that bounces in towards the right handed batsman
Off Spin: An off spinner aims to receive the bowler with a ball that bounces way from the right handed batsman
The image below gives a visual illustration of the finger positions and also the spin direction to be put on the ball where relevant:
The last aspect of the game to be looked at is fielding. To be a good fielder it is essential that players have good hand eye coordination and throwing and catching ability as seen earlier in the article. Here’s some quick tips to help your child to advance their skills further in the field.
- Walking In- as the bowler starts their run up fielding players should walk in with the bowler, this forward momentum keeps the weight on their toes and leaves the fielder best placed to react to any balls that come their way.
- Long Barrier- the long barrier is the percentage player when the ball is rolling along the ground, the player should make a barrier with the shoe of one foot and the lower leg of the other. This creates a back up in case the ball is missed with the hands.
- Gather and Pick Up- When the ball needs to be collected quickly the gather and pick up can be used to collect the ball on the move. The key here is to stay low and position the feet 45 degrees to the target collecting the ball inline with the head. Here is a video breaking down this more advance fielding technique:
How To Find A Kids Cricket Academy Near Me?
Cricket is a great sport for children of all ages and a great way to develop your child’s hand eye co-ordination, teamwork and decision making skills. As sports coaching professionals we would encourage you to help your child develop into an all round cricket player from a young age and allow them to specialize later, this will allow them to become a valuable asset to any team and also help them to fall in love with all aspects of the sport- even if your child is the best batter in the world they will still spend 50% of their time in the field so by introducing them to all of the skills that they need to be a great fielder will help them to stay stimulated in this aspect of the game and reduce the risk of boredom and subsequent drop out. If you or your child have a passion for cricket why not get started with our cricket sessions that come as par of our Kidster program where you can get a 30 Day Free Trial in cricket as well as 8 other different sports!