Representing your country in sport is a magnificent personal achievement but doing it playing a sport you love is the pinnacle for many athletes. In this two part blog we caught up with the England Under 14 Squad and quickly found out that personal achievement it might be, but a family affair it becomes!
Part 1 – Player’s View
So you’ve been selected for the Under 14 England Rounders Squad. You might have thought that getting through trials was the hard part but you are wrong. The hard work is about to begin but don’t be afraid it will be worth it.
When you become an England Rounder’s athlete you need to be prepared to forget what you thought you knew about rounder’s, school or social rounder’s is a very different game to how you play in the England Squad. In fact, playing for your school may never seem the same again.
What you will quickly learn is that the training time where you all come together is actually quite limited but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can coast along. Meg has a great Coaching programme that begins with some basic principles.
Firstly, teamwork – trusting your team (including your Coach Meg) and your team must trust you. Meg will expect you to develop your voice, learning to communicate with your team and be positive.
Secondly, develop your throwing technique. When you trialed, you might have put down a bowler, batter or fielder but the truth is that all the team need a good throwing technique. Be prepared to practice. Luckily, I have a dog (and a less enthusiastic Mum and Dad) to help pick up all the balls at home. Meg is a beast at throwing and her secret techniques she will share with you but the simple truth is that you will need to practice a lot in your spare time.
Catching will also need lots of your time – no one likes butter fingers and that ball will hurt if you don’t learn the correct catching technique which will also toughen up your hands.
Finally, it’s probably evident you need to be able to bat. For some of you, myself included, batting may be a weakness but you need to be a smart batter. Meg will coach you about placement of the ball as well as distance. Meg will train you to develop your ‘rounders brain’. Games can be won or lost by half rounders so you will need to think fast.
The coaches are experienced players. They have the techniques, drills and skills but it will be down to you to invest the time (yes, your own time). So when Meg tells you weekly practice, it means just that, no leaving it until the day before your next training session because if you don’t practice, she will know!!!
Match days are what we live for and there’s definitely a view that it’s quality over quantity, so most matches are set against independent schools from all over the country – you will need a good Sat Nav. In my first year I was on the development team but by the second year, with the coaches help I had found my voice and my confidence so I was lucky to be made the Captain of the elite team. It’s my greatest achievement so far. As Captain at match days, the coaches would work with me to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team. I’d never been a Captain at such a high level and it certainly taught me a lot. The international match against Wales is the highlight, standing for the National Anthem and playing for your country – there is no greater feeling.
So just remember the coaches can’t make you great, they picked you for your talent but success is based on hard work. Meg will give you the skills but it’s down to you to practice and implement them. The coaches are very experienced players who give up their time freely so reward them with your dedication to practice.
Come back for Part 2 later in the week, where we catch up with Mum and hear about her views.