GRANT Waldron has been quickly impressed with the young talent on show in this season's crop of the Australian Cricket Institute's Bendigo Academy players.
Waldron - a gun batsman with Strathdale-Maristians who has played Premier Cricket at Northcote - has taken over the coaching of the academy this season.
"The academy is for young players aged 11 to 14 and aims to bridge the gap between what they're getting at junior level and developing for representative and senior cricket," Waldron said this week.
"It's an added resource for the players that exposes them to a higher level of technical, tactical, physical and psychological training methods.
"The ACI has identified a bit of a gap between what kids are being exposed to at junior club land and the step up to senior and representative cricket, which is a big jump.
"A lot of focus on volunteer coaches is on involvement and the technical aspect of cricket. What we're trying to do is expose them more to the tactical side of things and physical preparation and getting them out of their comfort zone a little bit."
The academy will initially run with weekly sessions over six weeks on a Monday, followed by monthly sessions throughout the season.
Due to COVID restrictions the academy has been limited to just six participants - Judd Gilchrist, Clayton Smith, Kyen Burrill-Grinton, Max Thompson, Sam Scott and Charles Loorham.
The academy is being run at Strathdale's Bell Oval.
In association with the academy, the Australian Cricket Institute is also running its Coach Assist Program for volunteer junior coaches at the Suns.
The Coach Assist Program is a platform that provides clubs with a full season, weekly session plan for every age group, along with short supporting videos showing them how to effectively execute the drills and activities for their volunteer coaches.
"The junior coaches at Strathdale will have lots of access to resources from the ACI, which will run some seminars and workshops throughout the season to up-skill the volunteer coaches, which the club is really excited about," Waldron said.
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