The last few sessions have kept a focus up on rotating the strike. We did this with a game first shown to me by good coaching pal, Sam Lavery.
The game work well and we tracked performance on PitchVision. Everyone bought into the idea. They were trying new shots and working out the best way to play balls into different areas. Some stuff worked brilliantly (one guy hit 40% of his shots into gaps), other stuff was a total failure. There were some complaints about it not being ideal, but I took the opportunity to ask how we could make it better next time.
Speaking of taking opportunities, I continued to bang the mindset drum at every chance:
- A player showed concern at facing bowlers who were too good for him. I asked him what would the opportunity be for success in that situation. H challenged me and I challenged him back. It was a great discussion.
- One player brought up his desire to warm up with football before games in the summer. I'm against football as a warm up as I have seen it go wrong too often. However, I have opened my mind to other ideas and so challenged the player to come up with a solution that everyone can be happy with, rather than just refusing to join in other games that I select (like he did last year).
- A player fed back to me that after one net he lost focus and starting swinging at balls. He wasn't happy with himself. I asked him what he could do to next time and we had a good chat about his options when he recognises the urge again.
- Another player had a similar experience but reacted differently. He came out of the strike rotation net and said "I didn't play the game". This is classic fixed mindset, defending his ego because he felt he didn't do well. I tried to refocus him on what he could learn from the experience. I don't think it quite sunk in, but he was certainly saying by the end of the chat that he doesn't want to be "one of those guys who thinks they can't learn anything."
Now, I don't want every net to turn into an experiment as we also need to nail down the basics of what works well. For batsman that's still a reliable drive and pull shot with nothing fancy. For bowlers that's still hitting the top of off stump with the odd yorker or slower ball/googly/arm ball thrown in. But I feel most of the time, players will naturally gravitate to doing this and just need focus to make sure it gets hammered home.
I need to ask questions like, can you drive well every time? If not, how can we make it better, if so how can we make it harder? I need to push those guys to their learning edge at every chance.
In some ways, bowling is easier on this as we have the accuracy stat. Accuracy gets lots and lots of wickets, so by hitting off stump you will do well in club cricket. All bowlers will work hard on this stat (measured by PVC of course).
Currently things are looking solid. We have two guys topping 50% (exceptional) accuracy and several in the 40s. This doesn't even include our opening bowler who is working away at the moment but is usually one of the more accurate.
The danger is people using the numbers as proof of ability not benchmarks for improvement. I am keeping my eyes peeled there.