The final group session of the week was well attended with a mixture of abilities. We did plenty of fielding skills, particularly catching and hitting the stumps. We went indoors to finish with a "421" net.


I am staying on my twin mantras of bringing a goal to training, and tracking your catches.


Both are still a work in progress but people are still new to these ideas and I suspect it will take most of the season to become a habit. As a result, some people forgot to track their catches and no one remembered to track their throws. I am positive this will become habit eventually, but this is not easy to get right.


Even the 421 game has moments where we slip back to old ways. Two people simply did not bother to call their runs in the session despite my constant encouragement.


Positive training


The general tone seemed to be "don't get out" which is a goal in a way, although strike rates were well down for all the batsmen. I want more positive language and intentions at training. We play limited over cricket so you have to maximise every ball, especially batting first.


I mentioned more than once that a better intention is to "survive and thrive" because that gets you thinking about how well you could do rather than focusing on hanging in in there.


Preseason nets, even club nets, should be about batting as you would in the middle. If you have a game plan, play it in nets. If you get it wrong, keep trying until you get it right. If you need to make changes to the plan, try this at the next session.


Avoid the trap of playing poorly, deciding this is a waste of time and then doing things you don't do in games.


For example, one batsman was having trouble timing the ball so after about a dozen balls (against good quality bowling) he started to either block or slog. He is not that style of batsman and ended up increasingly frustrated. He stopped calling his runs. He wasn't practicing anymore.


To me, that's a waste of a session where he was facing good bowling. He doesn't get to train as regularly as he would like, so every session is vital to be taken as a chance to test himself. He will have days where it goes wrong. We all do. His challenge is to stay focused on his goal of testing his game plan to its limits.


Positive games


It's this positive mindset I also want to see in our early matches.


If a player knows his game plan, walks out to bat and tries to do that plan,  the rest of the team need to show confidence in him. We suffered a little last year from the "why did he play that stupid shot?" disease. My reply to that question is "was that in his game plan?"


If he plays a shot outside of his game plan it was a poor choice and we need to discuss it and help the player get a new plan (or better stick to the current one). However if it was his plan to play that shot and it didn't work out, there can be no judgement. The plan was good, the execution just needs work.


Play in games the way you practice. You earn the right to your plans and the trust of your team mates by practicing again and again.


So this year we are going to go into every innings thinking about what is the best we can do on this day if everything goes well, rather than hoping to survive. That comes from knowing and trusting your game plan, and the game plan of everyone else.

AuthorDavid Hinchliffe