This session was more time in the middle for batsmen and bowlers, but as always, we had a purpose that went beyond running around in the sun.
And, yes, there was more sun. This is most agreeable.
The focus for the players was PitchVision, which I had set up on the outdoor net on our practice wicket. For the uninitiated, the system is a ball tracker and video analysis tool. In the coming months I plan to really drill into the functionality, but today was all about using it and getting used to it.
We tracked several batsmen on video, including the club's new overseas player. We also did some basic tracking of bowler line and length. I kept it to two bowlers in the net at a time, with others doing target work on the outfield.
My original idea was to setup a competition between the first and second team bowlers based on accuracy. However, despite a good turn out, there wasn't enough league level bowling to make this a good challenge, so I abandoned the plan. I still have the data from the session and will take a look to see if I can use it for motivating players. I also plan to dish out some individual memberships so we can get data specific to certain players who care more about performance.
The batting was more successful because we could stick to the plan. We tracked the players with video and did a variation on the "intention 12" game. The idea was to give players a focus beyond "having a hit" (a hated phrase of mine) and stay in game mode. I gave each batsman between 4-6 overs of batting, facing just two or three bowlers at a time. I feel like this made it far more realistic and focused.
For batsman waiting to go in, we had a couple of drills going. We did the target hitting game from a previous week to allow some fielding and this drill for working on picking length. I flitted between the stations as much as I could and tried to keep people engaged. It's not easy with a wide variation in skills and around 15 players to one coach, but that is an exciting challenge for me!
It's becoming clear that there are two groups to cater for at each session: The guys who are playing Saturday league cricket, and the guys who just want to play, and will make up the 3rd XI Twenty20 and Sunday Development teams. It's important I don't make assumptions about which group a player is in as there will be talented guys who don't care for training, and 3rd team guys desperate to move into Saturday cricket. However, everyone who comes to practice still needs to get something from it and it's up to me to work out how to give the guys what they want and need.
Naturally, a big part of this will be building a culture where players are not afraid to ask for what they want. We are making progress there, with our Development XI captain taking the lead in speaking his mind, challenging my approach and helping organise the recreational guys. At this session he was brilliant in not only running a fielding drill, but also making sure I gave some of the recreational guys a bat and bowl.
They were clearing only having a hit, but they were having fun messing around and not taking it seriously. I loved it, and just stood back and let them get on with it. Sometimes it's not about developing performance, but it should always be about having fun.
Additionally, the overseas player was happy to assist with some coaching too, and ran a few fielding drills after he had his net session. I plan to use him when we have player overflow. He will also help build the training culture.
One or two guys approached me early on to quietly say "I've done all I want, can I go?". This was awesome, and it shows that people are taking responsibility for developing themselves and not just hanging around at training because the coach is still there. On the other hand, I need to be careful this also doesn't fall into "This is pointless, I can't get anything done, I'm going". That wasn't the case with these guys. Nevertheless I made a point of saying that if they needed more we can do some specific sessions outside of the group carnage.
- Good things: Out in the sunshine hitting balls, realistic pressure situations, lots of activity, tracking data and people improving.
- Needs work: Make sure and focus on the needs of the recreational players as well as the league players. Get players to challenge me more.