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Lancashire Cricket Board - An Insight into EPP Pre-Season Preparation
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An Insight into EPP Pre-Season Preparation

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The Emerging Players Programme headed down to Denstone College in Uttoxeter for pre-season preparation camp.

The main focus of the camp was fitness, bowling on grass and fielding under pressure. A group of 8 boys and 8 girls spent 3 days at the college with the support of Stephen Titchard (Performance Manager), Jenny Laycock (Women and Girls CDO) along with Dave and Mark our Strength & Conditioning (S&C) support. This camp was the final piece in the players’ winter preparation, they had all spent 8 weeks prior working on their skills and their physical preparation.

The players arrived at Denstone College and although cold, the sun was shining. The campus seemed to have lots of facilities for us to utilise including 3 large cricket fields and plenty of space for the sprinting and running technique sessions. The first morning saw the players shown around the accommodation followed by a high catching session. The theme for the first day was doing the basics well. The fielding was followed by a chance for the bowlers to get some overs under their belt on grass. This gave the new intern S&C coach, Mark a chance to practice his mitting skills against the bowlers. He started with the spinners but more practice was needed as Hannah Jones hit the top of the stump requiring Mark to take evasive action. Lunch was taken in the Hogwarts style dining room and the players had a well earned relax before a tough afternoon. The afternoon consisted of a split session with the girls heading to the weight gym first whilst the boys attempted to get the hand of the flicker. There was plenty of beamer practice to say the least! The girls pushed themselves in the gym working on putting the basics into practice whilst adding some weight. Queen of the pull ups was Shachi Pai! Dan Houghton and Michael Jones excelled with the flicker and gave each other some good practice getting the ball swinging by the end of the session.

The boys and girls groups swapped places and it was the turn of the girls to learn the art of the flicker. Bhumika Doshi and Shachi Pai were the most accurate and provided the most beneficial batting practice! The boys returned from the gym having pushed themselves and grooved some of their techniques. The facilities in the gym allowed the group to utilise lots of different bars, weights and equipment, something unfortunately we aren’t able to provide.

The players were treated to a yoga and foam rolling session following a demanding day by the strength and conditioning coaches. This gave the group chance to catch up and reflect on a good first day. Evening meal followed by, time to chill which for this group of teenagers meant not sitting still! One basketball and a flat football kept them entertained for the evening!

An early start was waiting on day 2 with some sprinting and running technique work on the athletics track at 7.30am. Following this was quick change and a fire drill! We managed to get all the players out of the maze that was the dormitories down and outside in plenty of time.

Breakfast followed this session along with some sleepy faces! The theme for the day was competition so throughout the day the players were able to score points for everything they did including catches they took, stumps hit in fielding and ability to bowl consistently or their alternative delivery. The fielding session was done in fairly warm conditions with little breeze so some high catching and head to head competition was the flavour of the session. Top work Rachel Dickinson and Dan Houghton by who were top of the list after fielding.

Lunch brought a welcome break for the players and staff alike! The second skills and gym session followed with a distinct competition theme. The gym session included many different exercises some more challenging than others. The players had to complete as many repetitions as possible in 30 seconds adding up their score as they went. The adding up of the scores proved more difficult than the exercises themselves at times! The second skills session was another batting session the players could utilise as they wished to get as much out of it as possible. With Jen and Stephen on hand to help with the flicker there was more of a challenge aspect brought into the batting rather than beamer avoidance!

A welcomed relaxed pool recovery session followed an intense day just prior to evening meal. Dave and Mark took the group through a stretch routine they can utilise when they are on land or in the pool and put in place when they are away and have pool access. The recovery session was followed by a game of water polo before the evening meal. The learning didn’t stop there though, following our evening meal of chicken wraps and salad we headed to a meeting room to discuss performance nutrition, sports drinks and the important of fuelling correctly. The players listened to Dave discussing the pros and cons of sports drinks, the amount of hidden sugars and high protein foods. There were some myths explained and quashed followed by interesting discussions on the use of protein shakes, etc. The evening was closed with a viewing of some of the pictures we had taken so far of the players working hard! Some interesting faces being pulled!

The final day dawned nice and early for the boys as they wanted to start the day at 7am with an extra gym session. The girls group spent their time snoozing! They also had the job of looking after the U13 / U15 squad of girls who were down at the same college playing in a festival. The girls had been in 3 large dormitories and had some tidying up to do!

The morning session saw the S&C experts take the group for a good stretch, warm up and some agility games. This was followed by some cross sport practice with basketball game and shoot out. Performing under pressure in the shoot-out was one challenge, Shachi Pai showed excellent composure sinking all her baskets with ease! Whilst this was going on each player was having a short chat with Jen or Stephen regarding the winter programme, their progress, what summer 2014 looked like and any questions they had moving forward.

The sun came out and we had a short break whilst we watched some of the Lancashire v Staffordshire match where Lancashire were batting and doing well. Final task before lunch and debrief was some diving catching and sliding stops. The first chance to do this outside which is great after a winter of sliding on mats covered with talc heading home covered head to toe! However unbelievably in mid April the ground was rock hard meaning first task was to source some water and buckets! The players had plenty of fun diving and sliding around with some good techniques on show which had been honed indoors and taken outside.

Lunch was taken and the group had a short debrief to reflect on the last 3 days. Some good feedback from the players and coaches alike. Many thanks to Denstone College and for allowing us use of their sports facilities, thanks to Staffordshire Cricket Board for organising the tournament our young girls squad took part in and to the players for their efforts over the 3 days.

See the image gallery to the right for some of the pictures taken over the 3 days. 

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