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19th January 2010

Durham Academy Blog – Winter schedule

This first edition of this insight into Academy life is focused on our off-season winter programme.  From early October to early April our cricketing lives are focused upon overall improvement, as cricketers and as young men. We work with many members of the coaching staff concentrating on areas specific to ourselves, from one-to-one professional technical coaching to university applications.

For myself and Callum, being both pace bowlers, our winter is based upon recognising technical, mental and physical weaknesses and improving these weaknesses over a structured and organised programme and time scale.

Early October saw many meetings with many members of staff discussing what our winter was going to involve and by the end of this time period what outcomes we hoped to be evident.  Our first meeting was with John Windows, Academy Coach. This individual discussion was on the back of a full Academy squad meeting. This involved whole academy goals and hopes from both players and staff involved and discussion concerning where we are as a squad now and where we aspire to be at the end of both the winter off-season and the 2010 season. Within our one to one meetings we discussed the end of season appraisal that previously occurred between ourselves and John. Goals are set around this appraisal and ways of reaching these goals are created and structured.
The next member of staff that Callum and I both met was Phil Dicks, whose involvement within the club concentrates on lifestyle choices, being as prepared and determined towards life off the field as we all are whilst playing. Grasping weaknesses within our lifestyle choices and alike as the cricket itself, we set positive goals and set ways we can reach them. For myself personally, Phil helped me to create a specific winter plan, stretching from October 2009 to April 2010. For Callum in particular, who was sitting his A-level’s, Phil gave experienced advice helping Callum construct his personal statement for his university application.

The last member of staff we met was Mike King, Strength and Conditioning Coach. Within this meeting, we were subject to strength and fitness tests. Firstly, focusing on our aerobic fitness, our heart rates were recorded and levels reached on a treadmill with continuously increasing speed at two minute intervals. Thirty metre sprint tests were next, recording our time taken over this short sharp distance. After having times recorded within that event we moved on to single legged jumps measuring height jumped and comparison between our individual leg strength. 

Finally, were specific strength tests, finding a five repetition maximum for three exercises, bench press, back squat and finally the three forms off the pull up. From all of the fitness testing, Mike creates an off season strength and conditioning programme for each of the academy members. For each member a totally individual programme is created, concentrating on specific areas of weaknesses to that individual player. Within this programme are workouts concerning on strength work along with cardio-vascular exercises, all placed into a training schedule for that calendar month. Helpful addition training and recovery information is also provided. Concentrating on diet and recovery strategies that will help maintain performance and reduce the possibility of injury.

From all the above meetings, goal setting and path choosing, each academy player starts their training schedule. For myself living in Cumbria, I discussed with all the above members of staff appropriate days within the week to travel over and train and monitor progress. For Callum, sitting vital A-level exams in January, time to prepare for revision was taken into consideration also. Callum and I along with all the members of coaching staff involved came to the conclusion that two days a week was a perfect time. This time allotted allowed us to have meetings and sessions with all the staff as well as allowed chance to monitor improvement and time for valuable practice in all aspects of our game, technical, physical and mental.

Throughout December 2009 our training was continued, strictly following our individual training programmes throughout the Christmas and New Year period. After the festive break, each academy player was scheduled to participate in all the fitness testing that took place in October 2009. Results are gathered and compared with results from months before. This gives chance to reflect on improvement and also is an insight on how to maintain this improvement for the months ahead.

Now, in January 2010, all of the academy players are deep in preparation for the coming season, continuing with training schedules as well as constant contact with all staff involved.

Within Durham County Cricket Club there is a feeling of vast improvement throughout all involved. This success and determination displayed throughout ensures a successful professional mentality within the academy.

By Jamie Harrison & Callum Harding – keep an eye out for our next update!