The weather was the challenge here. Unlike last week, we had rain in the air and a greasy outfield for this 14 man senior session.
The good news was that it was just about dry enough to work outside, and we had the indoor nets as backup. So, after a simple warm up where we rolled and threw a ball round with some movement prep thrown in, we were ready for the main session.
the theme I wanted to stress was "adversity".
Considering they grey clouds, this was easy for the guys to get into. I wanted to stress that we work in imperfect situations all the time and the best players are those who, as Mark Garaway says, "get on with it". This represents an attitude where we do the best we can with whatever we have.
The first test of this was a one hand pick up and throw drill. Representing the covers, we rolled out the ball for the player to run on at an angle (rather than the usual drill where you run on straight). The coaching I gave was to get the ball into the hand, and out again throwing at the base of the stump.
This is a hard drill and I did minimal technical intervention, watching how everyone reacted to the repeated failure. Stumps were hit and missed and the drill took a while to get going, but by the end everyone was working hard and dealing with the multiple points of failure.
I pulled them together afterwards to stress this was not about being perfect, but about working on a skill that will be worthwhile if we get one more run out via a direct hit.
Then we split into a fielding and batting group.
One of my biggest peeves is batting in nets without purpose. It's so easy to revert to "having a hit". So, instead I set up a challenge for the first group in the indoor nets (it was too wet to bat and bowl outside).
Each net had two bowlers and two batters. The score is 35-3 (or for the tail enders, 90-7). The bowlers set their field and the batsmen were given 10 points each. Batsmen lose points by,
- Getting out -3
- Playing and missng -1
When you get to zero points you are out.
As we had fields set on whiteboards, batsmen run the runs they think they get based on the field set.
I generally left them to get on with it without intervention. Mainly because I had to run the drills outside. However I popped back to get feedback.
the general feeling was that the drill rules gave focus beyond netting for the sake of netting. There was some discussion about the points system.
One negative was the running element. Both nets ingnored the instruction to run realistically and just swapped ends now and again. One player even ignored the game totally and just batted like he always did in nets. I am hoping over time everyone will start to understand that nets must have a purpose. The player who was not focused said he didn't really care because he was a genuine 11. My response was that all numbers are batsmen and even an 11 can win a game with a heroic 50. I hope he heard my message: Get on with it!
However, as the game went on and players got out, others wanted to go in and two guys took over as unofficial game masters; judging runs, ruling on LBW and keeping score. This was excellent leadership from within the group and made the drill better.
I feel this can work even better if we also track bowling and batting from session to session. I am hoping to set up PitchVision this week to get that in place.
The guys who were not in nets were keen to field. We set up a bowling station and a couple of guys decided to bowl at a target and the rest went with me. We worked on,
- Team chasing and returning (including some sliding in the wet).
- Boundary rope catching
- High and flat catching
We didn't track anything, focusing on getting in some activity and volume. If I had done it again I would have worked out a way to track catches and drops. Possibly even setting up a leaderboard of the best practice catchers over time.
Again I was pleased by the overall enthusiasm and commitment. We played on after it got a bit too dark. I was struggling to see the ball thrown in so they were lobbing it gently back for me to hit up!
- Good: Players dealt with adverse conditions well, nets were focused.
- Needs work: I need to stress the theme, and the idea that players can lead the drills, even more. Need more tracking in place of catching, bowling accuracy, throwing accuracy and batting performance. Didn't review afterwards (possibly introduce the idea of training diaries).