Nets without nets: A customised game to develop outdoor cricket batting skills. 

Nets without nets: A customised game to develop outdoor cricket batting skills. 

One of the challenges for me as a coach is to find creative ways to use indoor practice to help players reach outdoor cricket goals. Here’s a game we played with a group of Under 16 cricketers I hoped would do just that. I hope you can find a practical use for something similar. 

I wanted the players to “just play” with minimal coach input to encourage self-discovery (one of the key principles of the constraints-led approach I am building into my coaching). However, I didn’t want the players to have a traditional game of indoor cricket as the goal was to improve strike rotation in outdoor cricket. Instead we set up a game with five a side, 15 minutes per innings, with the following way to score points: 

Batting team points: 

  • 1 = Rotate the strike.
  • 3 = Lose no wickets for 5 “rotations” .
  • 4 = Hit the ball through target cones. 

Bowling team points: 

  • 1 = Batsman hits the ball into the wall without it bouncing.
  • 2 = Batsman is caught off the wall.
  • 3 = Batsman is caught, bowled, stumped or assisted run out.
  • 4 = Batsman is run out with a direct hit. 

The team with the most points after both innings wins the game.  

To keep the game moving we rotated the batsman around when a run was scored. The non-striker became the umpire while the umpire switched with one of the two waiting batsmen.  

The game was tight up until the penultimate ball, which also - hopefully - gave the players the feeling of performaing when something is on the result. 

From my point of view the game played out as hoped, with players working out tactics, making mistakes and enjoying the situational nature of the game. Some players wanted another round instead of moving to nets.

One player felt there were not enough balls faced. Although I disagree, he is the type of player who wants a lot of volume in his sessions. I need to do a better job of making the outcomes clear alongside making sure the “volume” guys get a bit of pure time on task. For me, not the most efficient use of time but for him an important way to build confidence. I am not sure he is right, but the only way he will learn for sure is by experiencing different training types.

Some  may also argue that there was no isolated technical work with all the focus on outcomes. I am currently highly convinced by the argument that there is no need to isolated batting technique outside of decision making. Action always follows a decision. So, for me, this was a technical session too in that players had to develop a technical method to perform in the match. I have not always though this, having been brought up on the ideal of isolated drills, so this is a new experiment. However, I never really had much luck trying to force a set technique on a player in isolation. Perhaps that is just poor coaching from me, or perhaps it’s because technique is more about outcome effectiveness than movement perfection.

What are your thoughts on using this type of game? Useful and practical or otherwise? 


AuthorDavid Hinchliffe