As yesterday was the first outdoor session with West of Scotland, I thought it would be a good exercise to record my thoughts on the sessions through the summer. Part tutorial, part self-analysis.
First the basics. The club has its own ground and a range of training gear that I am hoping to extend. It also has a two lane indoor net. For this session the weather was set fair and we had full use of the outfield. The square wasn't ready for practice so we stayed off it.
The turnout was 20 or so senior club players. I had never seen any of them before, so this session was about finding out more about the training personality and ability levels of the guys. Spoiler alert, I was impressed with the standards.
The session itself was split into
- Warm up
- Group discussion
- Throwing technique and bowling target practice
- Final discussion
The whole thing took about an hour and a half, and I was pleased to see almost all the guys carry on after the session with some batting drills and high catching work.
The warm up was two simple fielding drills; a zig zag drill to get the heart pumping, and a drill where players had to hit a stump. I made it competitive between two groups. The idea here was to get a look at the movement skills of the players, see what intensity was shown and get some activity going straight away. Everyone got stuck in, no one looked out of depth.
I then sat them down for 10 minutes to chat about expections for the sessions. I also got to see who the more outspoken guys were, and who stayed quiet. I let the less extroverted guys know they can speak to me in a one to one environment.
With that done, I split the group into those who wanted to bowl (about seven players) and the rest.
The bowlers did some target practice, with the added incentive of keeping score. They set their own score system which was minus three points for a one day wide, three points for hitting a stump, and one point for hitting the cone target on the pitch. They recorded the results on whiteboards.
The point of that was to have a frame of reference for future sessions, and make it a bit competitive. It's based on the idea of "deliberate practice", where you need instant feedback and make small adjustments.
Interestingly, I got some good feedback about this drill. One player told me he gets more benefit from bowling at batsmen because he uses the opponent as his target. This makes sense. Shorter batters are different from taller, and premeditation is also a factor. I'm going to think about how we can use this in future sessions.
Also, one player said he prefered technical drills to target work. For this big group session it was impractical but we discussed it and - in the interest of player led coaching - he said he was happy to go off and do his drills alone. That's fine with me as players know themselves better than I ever will. I'll make a note to review progress though.
The other main part of the session was the throwing technique drills first shown to me by Mark Garaway when we filmed First Class Fielding . These are based on baseball drill to improve power and accuracy. My thinking is that fielding is one of the easier areas to get fast improvements and if we get the techniques down, we will make a difference to opposition scores.
We finished this section with a classic run out game for a fun finish, and I jumped in to act as keeper for the throws.
Some guys asked to do their own work in pairs with some batting drills. I was happy to let them go off and do their own thing. This was ad hoc and at the time I felt we should do something productive rather than just hit a few balls. On reflection though, this was both unplanned and player led so it was fine. In future I may challenge players to tell me the objective first, just to make sure the work is mindful of their larger goals.
We finished the formal part of the session by asking "what can we do better next time?"
I love this question because it challenges people to think and review rather than just say it was a good session. I got my feedback about the bowling here, and also heard some good comments about setting targets. Off the back of this, I plan to try and set up some one to one chats with people about their aims for the season, and how we can structure training to meet these goals.
- The good: high energy, good balance of player led and coach led activity.
- Needs work: more personalisation required, need to try and get a practice pitch for the batsmen.