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Research is delivering improvements to coaching in youth cricket

Research by University of Gloucestershire in partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has delivered a significant change in cricket coach development, which will help prevent injuries to youth players and enhance performance.

Professor Mark De Ste Croix and Dr Jonathan Hughes, Senior Lecturer in Strength and Conditioning, from the University’s School of Sport and Exercise, have been working with the ECB to investigate issues surrounding injury risk and prevention in cricketers.

Studies conducted by the ECB have shown that lumbar stress fractures cause the greatest time-loss of any injury in cricket, often exceeding six months, which significantly affects both the skill and physical development opportunities of young fast bowlers.

These findings led to the development of an injury risk management programme, delivered online by Prof De Ste Croix to ECB grassroots coaches, to implement into their coaching sessions with the aim of reducing injuries and enhancing performance.

As a result of the success of these workshops, the ECB has made changes to the compulsory elements of cricket coach development in England and Wales, with a youth movement competency being introduced into the Core Coaching Award

It means that every future cricket coach in England and Wales will receive compulsory movement competency and physical literacy training for youth cricketers, based on the research.

Prof De Ste Croix, Professor of Paediatric Sport and Exercise, said: “We developed this specific cricket-focused competency programme for grassroots coaches based on our 25 years of research in children’s sport and exercise.

“It’s great news that, as the sport’s governing body in England and Wales, the ECB believes that the work that we have been doing with them in terms of coach education to reduce injury risk in youth cricketers, is now a compulsory element in the Level 2 Cricket Coaching Award.

“We look forward to grassroots coaches across the UK implementing the research-led programme, which not only links to injury risk management but can also aid in enhancing performance.”

In addition to their cricket research, Prof De Ste Croix and Dr Hughes have carried out joint studies related to injury risk in a number of sports, including football, basketball, netball and rugby.

Rob Ahmun, National Strength and Conditioning Lead at the ECB, said: “The impact of Mark running a number of workshops for us has increased coaches’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs around how their own coaching impacts on players’ physical movements.

“Coaches who joined the workshop are now more aware about the impact they have on a young athlete’s ability to move through the way they coach.

“Embedding that in ECB policy is a massive step forward in moving the whole coach and player development process forward.” 

The University offers a range of postgraduate and undergraduate degree courses related to the sports industry, with students benefiting from access to expert lecturers, industry placements and specialist facilities including a new multi-million-pound Sports Park.