The key points from our recently published article that asked expert players and coaches about developing fast bowlers.
Objectives: Experiential knowledge of elite athletes and coaches was investigated to reveal insights on expertise acquisition in cricket fast bowling.
Design: Twenty-one past or present elite cricket fast bowlers and coaches of national or international level were interviewed using an in-depth, open-ended, semi-structured approach.
Methods: Participants were asked about specific factors which they believed were markers of fast bowling expertise potential. Of specific interest was the relative importance of each potential component of fast bowling expertise and how components interacted or developed over time.
The Early Years:
•Experts in cricket believed that early in development the primary focus should be on:
–fun and enjoyment(100%),
–general skill development (71.4%).
•The importance of intrinsic motivation early in development was highlighted, along with physical, psychological and technical attributes.
•True passion for the game were suggested to be most likely to continue into the investment phase.
Early Talent Identification is Difficult:
“You can see talent in kids. But to see talent in a 12 year-old kid, mate, talent’s one thing but how far they are going to go is probably parental wishing is that they want their kids to go as far as they can. I’m of a different view; we’ll just wait and see.” (Expert Cricket Coach)
What does it take?
“To be successful, I think at a higher level it’s all about attitude, and the guys that are prepared to work harder, prepared to listen, always looking to learn, I think, will always have more potential. I think the guys that have the right attitude with the skills as well; you still have to have a certain skill level to perform at this level.”
Early success is not always a sign of future success:
•“Very good young fast bowlers…are sometimes actually physically big compared to the rest of their age group.”
• A couple of things happen with that type of athlete;
–often, everybody else catches up to them so they can’t dominate the way they did at a younger age….
–coaches or teachers or parents haven’t worried too much about them technically, their skill set, because they’re going so well and …their skill set remains at that level,
Others [late developers] apart from catching up physically in size have also learnt a few other skills along the way.
The experience-based knowledge and insights of expert performers and coaches should be harnessed and allied to the empirical knowledge gained from research on expertise acquisition in sport.
•Talent development programs should focus on talent development rather than selection due to different rates of athletic skill development.
•Talent development programs should promote flexible and adaptive learning environments to foster expertise in athletes.
•A ‘one-size fits all’ approach should be avoided with athletes encouraged to develop their own unique performance solutions as they acquire expertise in sport.
•The data from this study suggest that talent development programmes need to pay greater attention to the unique pathways to expertise achieved by developing athletes as they satisfy the unique set of interacting constraints impinging upon them.