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What to do with a 5-year old cricketing prodigy? | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Posted in: All other coaching children topics

What to do with a 5-year old cricketing prodigy?

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  • andrewb62

    What can I do to help a prodigy?

    We are coming to the time of year for writing end-of-term reports for the groups of u5s and u7s I coach.

    Easy for most - enjoy the holiday, have fun, try to take a few catches and hit a ball; mind the windows/Mum's furniture if you play at home.

    Not so easy for a 5-year old batting prodigy ("R"). Go out and play lots of cricket; score some runs; work on hitting the gaps, maybe get a bit more control over that reverse sweep; perhaps develop some power shots?

    The sort of advice that might be appropriate for an ambitious 11 year old.  But at just 5?  There will be no organised cricket at that age, and much as Dad is a willing bowler, there is only so much he will be able to do.

    At Christmas, we moved R up to an older group (a group he is already dominating). After the summer break, we would logically suggest he moves up again - to a group where he will be 4 years younger and a foot or more shorter than the others.

    R is not a big boy - if anything, he is a little shorter than average for his age - and he could be over-powered with the older players. But he is not going to learn much unless he is stretched. And that is probably not going to happen if he is playing with children "only" 2 years his senior.

    Club (and representative) cricket does not really kick in until under 9. I suspect that he could compete, but is it right to push a 5-year old so far ahead of his age?

    So - what to suggest?

    footnote: How good is R? I started coaching him about 10 months ago. He immediately put me in mind of another outstanding young player I was lucky to work with, "E". E is 14, now, in his County Age Group Performance squad and knocking on the door of national representative squads. At just 5 years of age, R is almost on a par with E when I first saw him at the age of 9. So R is four years ahead of a player who, at 14, is now a genuine prospect to play for his country in age-group cricket.

  • pippaglen

    A really hard one, however even with such amazing talent children at this age he still requires fun and much more learning. ABC.  Personally I would put more multi skills into his training session instead of focusing on what he's really good it you may find there is some room for improvement in all areas of his training that have not yet been spotted. 

    I love coaching children of this age group they are amazing to watch and assess. 

  • andrewb62

    Thanks, Emma - there is definitely scope for building all-round athletic ability...even if he is only 5!

    I think my biggest concern is to identify an appropriate (almost) peer group so he can just play the game.

    I certainly would not recommend "hot housing" - he has an unusual talent, but it needs space and challenge to thrive, not micro-managing by a coach or coaches...and that's a coach writing!

  • andrewb62

    This, from John O'Sullivan of the Changing the Game Project.

    If the embedded video does not work, the original page is here.

  • rupeetg

    Hi Andrew

    Yes this is indeed a challenge for you but here are some ideas that may be of use

    If R finds it easy doing the basics that his peer group are at a more learning stage I would suggest keeping him initially there but pushing him at areas that his peer group are already doing. So get him to occasionally try and throw left handed (assuming his right handed), get him to try and occasionally hit only one side of the wicket, get him to try and occasionally catch one handed. Depending on how he goes with this you can increase the tasks accordingly.

    As far as pushing a 5 year old I feel that in the UK we normally take the easy option of holiding kids back i.e. Tiger Woods hit golf balls effectively at 4, Rory MciLroy hitting golf balls into a washing machine on TV at 9, Sachin Tendulkar played for Bombay at 15 and India at 16 which are all things that would not happen in the UK so would strongly encourage it; as you know Under 9's start with softball and in pairs so if he is as good as you imply then there should not be an issue in getting him to have a go with the Under 9's maybe next season - or Under 8;s if you have any friendly matches for them)

    Hope this helps

    Agree totally though that any sessions for kids at this age group need to be fun

  • andrewb62
    On 19/09/16 13:03, Rupert Garrett said:

    we normally take the easy option of holiding kids back

    There's the rub - it is easier to work to a fixed (age-defined) structure, and not rock the boat.

    But I wonder how many talented youngsters, told to wait for another year or two before "playing with the big boys", end up moving on to other interests?

    Ultimately, it won't be my decision - as one member of a coaching team, all I can do is advise.

  • Mwood


    A very interesting thread. Golf, badminton, tennis, hockey all striking sports that would offer him a challenge and a fun summer with his friends. In the Netherlands there is a movement called 'donor sports' which is being used to develop young athletes in soccer using martial arts, gymnastics and other team games as part of a wider sporting education. I think providing the opportunity for him to play cricket (backyard, on the beach) would be great but in a playful, unstructured with no adult intervention would be the most effective. How about frisbee for fielding or goal keeping to develop his perception and reaction to ball flight? Does he play wicket keeper? 

    Here is a link to Geert Savelsbergh work on the athletics skills model that includes the concept of donor sports 


  • andrewb62

    Today is the anniversary of my original post. R is still playing, still keen, still getting better, and still one of the first to be picked in a group of players up to 3 years older.

    Thanks for the comment, Matthew. If I have understood the concept, donor sports are selected deliberately for the potential transfer of physical attributes and skills to the "parent" sport?  So rather than the more general "multisports" approach, advocating that young athletes sample as many different sports as possible before specialising, donor sports are intended to support development within a target sport?

    I shall certainly be investigating further.

    Thanks also for the link to Athletics Skills Model.  I see that the English language edition of the book is due to be released in October - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Athletic-Skills-Model-Optimizing-Development/dp/1138707333/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498812457&sr=8-1&keywords=Athletic+skills+model - this will have to go onto the reading list.

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