Preparing for a Sussex Pathway trial

Congratulations on your son/daughter’s nomination to participate in a Sussex Pathway trial. Only the very best players at clubs are selected for Sussex trials and the nomination should not be underestimated. We only put forward players who have the qualities that the Sussex selectors are looking for and we believe are able to compete at a higher level.

What are the Sussex coaches/selectors looking for ?

The Sussex coaches/selectors aren’t looking for the finished article – they are looking for players they can develop, work with and improve to become top level players. They are not looking for someone who hits the ball the hardest, or bowls the fastest – they are more interested in players who have consistency in their actions and who are team players who contribute positively to the squad in different ways.

Preparing for the trial

The trials usally take place well after the end of the season. The challenge for players is to stay match fit to ensure that they perform at their very best for the trial. It’s important that the players bat and bowl regularly (bowlers to bowl approx 4 over at full pace every day) to ensure that they stay sharp and don’t lose the rythmn in their bowling.

Having the right mind set

Sports psycologists stress the importance of having the right mindset when playing sport at a higher level. Every player is different but all the top sportsmen/women have a positive mindset that is able to spur them on even when the chips are down.

It’s important that parents continually encourage players when things aren’t going their way and help them to develop a with a plan to get them back on track. Younger players don’t always have the consistency in their actions which often leads to frustration. Speaking to a coach whom the player knows and trusts may help the player to get some pointers.

The days before the trial

It’s important for players to get into ‘county mode’ in the days leading up to the trial. There is a big step up from village to county level and it’s important for players to mentally prepare themselves to compete against other players who want to get into the county squad as much as they do. Most players recognise what they need to do – the challenge is to execute what needs to be done.

Details matter when sport is played at a higher level and it’s important that players identify the things they need to work on and keep focussing on them in the days leading up to the trial. Do they have a plan for when their bowling just isnt working ? Have they considered all the options ? Bowling slightly slower, using the crease when bowling, changing the angle of the runup, change to bowling around the wicket are the sorts of things that players need to think through in case things dont go their way in the trial. Just having a plan of action can give the player a lot of confidence when they are struggling.

Players should practice all aspects of their game in the days leading up to the trial including catching (high catches, slip catching, etc ), general fielding (long barrier) and throwing into the keeper/bowler. Players should practice with intensity and focus and ‘getting into the zone’ imagining that they are participating in the trial when practising.

Playing golf should be minimised ahead of a trial. A golf swing and a cricket shot require completely different foot and hand movements and if players want to do well in a cricket trial they should practice their cricket shots and get them into muscle memory. Playing too much golf may result in the player having to adjust their technique too much to get back into ‘cricket mode’.

Bowlers should practice bowling uphill (most bowlers only practice bowling downhill) and ensure that they fine tune their runups (shorter runup usually when bowling uphill) . The shorter the runup the better. It should not take more than 15 steps to generate the necessary speed to bowl. A runup of only 10 steps is far better with the bowler accelerating into their final strides.

Making sure the kit bag is in order for the trial is vitally important. It’s a good idea to clean out the kit bag ahead of the trial so it feel new when they go to the trial. Ensure that their cricket shoes don’t have any studs missing and they have all the other kit they require eg cap.

Players need to take ownership of their sleep patterns in the days leading up to the trial to ensure that they give their bodies (and minds) enough time to rest and recover. Having a sleepover in the days leading up to the trail is not a good idea. Players need to rest and have a good night’s sleep to ensure that they are able to perform at their very best at the trail.

The night before the trial

It’s very important that players have an early night ahead of the trail. The players will no doubt be nervous and its important that parents offer reassurance and encouragement to the player – helping them to recall the times they played well and reminding them of all of their acheivements. The player should go to sleep happy and content within themselves.

Kit should be washed and clean and smelling good – packed and ready for use the next day. Shoes should also be cleaned (by the player !! )

The day of the trial

Players should have a hot bath /shower in the morning of the trail or shortly before the trail if possible if the trail is in the afternoon so they feel relaxed and refreshed.

Players should have their favourite breakfast and siblings should be asked to be on their best behaviour to support their brother/sister. No family squabbles allowed ….

The player should arrive at the ground well ahead time allowing for traffic jams and time to find the grounds which are often in remote locations. There is nothing worse than a player arriving for an important trial being flustered and worried that they may be late.

The trial itself

It’s important for the players to focus on what they are good at during the trail. If they are a fast bowler, they should stick to fast bowling, not suddenly change to spin bowling during the trail.

It’s also not a good idea to try out the latest Jos Buttler paddle sweep at the trail but to rather focus on the bog standard shots they normally play and play them well.

The coaches will be looking very closely at how players react when things dont go their way – what happens after a catch is dropped – are players they able to bounce back quickly and take the next one or are they unable to recover from dissapointment,.

It’s important that players are seen to be good team players. Are they encouraging the bowler and celebrating with him/her when they take a wicket or someone takes a catch ?

Bowlers should ensure that they are fully warmed up when they are asked to bowl so their first few balls are as accurate as they can be . They should take time to measure their runup and if they have time, bowl a ball (no runup) to another fielder. They should also look at the field and make sure that fielders are appropriately positioned for their style of bowling.

When coming into bat batters must always ask for middle stump (or whatever guard they normally ask for) so they can get their bearings. They should also take their time by looking at the positioning of the fielders to identify where the gaps are

Most important of all is for players to go out and express themselves and rely on their instincts. They are at the trial for a reason. The club believes in them and has every confidence in their ability. Over to them to believe in themselves !!

Best of luck with the trial.