The challenge for us at this time of year is to use training time to get some decent batting practice outdoors.
As the weather is good, it would be a terrible waste to use the indoor nets, especially as they are so fast and bouncy compared to early season tracks in this northern outpost. Here's what I did.
We had a group of about 15, a big dry outfield and superb weather.
First we warmed up with some general activity and a good old three point fielding drill.
Then we set up two set of stumps on the outfield and split the group into two. Both groups did an identical drill:
- Two players pad up. One is the batsman, the other is the keeper.
- One person acts as feeder, throwing overarm to the batter.
- the other players act as fielders.
The aim of the drill is for the batsman to hit the ball between target cones that had been set up by the group anywhere they like. Both groups chose to set targets at cover and point, while they differed on the third target: One chose midwicket, one chose square leg.
if you are caught or bowled you are out. If you fail three times in a row to hit the target you are out.
Once out, the keeper becomes the batsman, the batsman becomes a fielder and a fielder pads up to be ready to go. Fielders rotate.
This was more than a compromised version of middle practice though. The aim was to think about pushing the ball into gaps rather than playing technically perfect drives straight to mid off. This is part of my wider aim to improve strike rotation across the club.
I encouraged the guys to develop and adjust the drill, which they did well. They changed the rules to give players a longer bat, and made adjustments to the target areas. I also asked for feedback throught the session on how we could improve the drill further.
we did the drill for about 40 minutes, then I called them in to remind them that my focus is on helping individuals help themselves, as a result my sessions will always have suggested group drills, but will be happy to let people do their own thing if they prefer.
in the spirit of that, I let bowlers and batters go off and work on their own thing if they wanted, while the main chunk of the group did some catching technical work to finish the session.
- The good: Focused session again with players learning to take personal responsibility. Lots of activity and the general idea of hitting gaps introduced to much enthusiasm.
- Needs work: As the group is split up, I can't give full attention to everyone. Hopefully as players start to understand the way I work, they will realise this is OK. I also need to get to know they players better.