Future cricket stars to take skills to next level

James Cook University and Queensland Cricket have joined forces to give North Queensland’s best junior cricketers every chance of success at the highest level in a new training program set to start next month.

About 20 junior cricketers between the ages of 14 and 16 from Townsville, Ingham, Charters Towers and Home Hill will take part in the 10-week High Performance Development and Education Pilot Program, to be run out of JCU’s Performance Science Hub in Townsville.

The program is the brainchild of JCU Sport and Exercise Science Lecturer Dr Jonathan Connor and Queensland Cricket Coaching and Talent Specialist Tony Hampson, who both saw a need to level the playing field for the region’s junior cricketers by offering the same high performance training and skills their southern counterparts already receive.

Dr Connor said the program was designed to introduce junior cricketers to strength, mobility and conditioning practices appropriate for their age group and educate them on leadership skills and high-performance practices such as warm-ups, nutrition and hydration.

“We wanted to provide these opportunities to regionally based cricketers, given how challenging it is when you’ve got a group of players who are so geographically spread out,” Dr Connor said.

“We’re not only looking at the physical training side of things with our resources and equipment, but it’s also about providing the education and knowledge that comes with training, preparing and eating like an elite athlete.

“From a technology perspective, we will be using force plates to measure athletes’ power output and specialised timing gates to measure their speed and acceleration, so we can track how much they improve over the course of the program.”

Dr Connor said an additional benefit of the program was that players took the knowledge they gained from the program back to their local teams, helping to improve player performance across the board.

Mr Hampson said the program would make players “stronger, faster and better” when it came to their batting, bowling and fielding.

“We want to also make sure they know the core movement patterns to be able to squat, lunge, press and pull, which will hopefully improve their speed, power and agility on the cricket field,” he said.

“We’re in a really good space at the moment in North Queensland. Our numbers are really good from 16 years down and they continue to grow from the grassroots up. Quality wise, we’re starting to get local kids representing Queensland teams and our northern teams are competing and winning when they’re playing against their southern counterparts.

“Cricket is in a strong spot and this program will value-add to these opportunities. Having this all-in-one facility at JCU is just fantastic and these players will get access to specialists that a lot of players in the past haven’t had.”

Dr Connor hopes the program will return next year and potentially expand to other regional and rural areas via training hubs connected by technology.

The program will start on July 18 and run through to September 21.

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