The weather final beat us and we were forced indoors for the first "orthodox" net session of the year. I'm still loving that we have the facility to do this. No one else in our league will be training this week!
Turnout was still good, and with two nets with no other space, the challenge was to not let the session become a random hit/overbowl session.
This largely worked as we split into a "live" net with two batsmen - swapping over by running when there was a mishit or wicket - and throwdowns.
I let the live net run itself. PitchVision was up to motivate the bowlers over both pace and accuracy and that worked nicely. As always, the challenge with setting up rules in a net is to keep the rules going when I am not watching. Inevitably, nature takes over and players stop following the rules to make life easier.
What I am failing to impress on the guys is that training is not about making life easier. Training is about getting better and having fun along the way. By letting the rules slip, players are reducing how much they improve and how much fun they have. Yet it's so easy to default to "just having a net". I will work harder to change the culture.
Meanwhile, I gave throwdowns in the other net, working on specifics with about six players over the session. Everyone had different aims and I challenged them as much as I could to push up against their limitations and try new things.
For example, I got a couple of guys to try and drive everything, then challenged them with shorter than drive length balls as well as half volleys. I fell this is a much better way to learn to play than simply hitting bowling machine balls.
With another player who said "I can't bat, I'm a bowler", we worked on very simple driving skills and changing his attitude from "can't bat" to "working on batting". As Mark Garaway says, everyone is allowed to get runs.
I still need to get my sidearm skills up to scratch, but after trying it for a few minutes it was clear the tool was creating too much bounce on the indoor surface and I went back to throwing balls.
Always be reviewing
Finally, during the session I reviewed the Saturday performance with senior guys.
The general view from the firsts was the collapse was because players started to fear getting out and were not looking to score. The solution was to play with the same tactical approach but look to attack bad balls with more confidence. Secondly, to have a "breakout" shot for when you are tied down. We discussed how it's acceptable to get out playing your shots as long as they are practiced and planned. No one should feel restricted out of fear of playing a shot because of accusations of "silly shots".
I feel I need to reiterate how it's everyone's job to chip in something. Maybe only four guys can consistently get you a few 50s a season, but if the next six can chip in an average of 15+ over a season you are quids in. Batting is a team job, and 150, I'm told, is often a winning total.
Lastly, the bowling plan was good but hard to implement defending a low score, and to persevere with improving accuracy to hit the stumps more often.
The seconds, after a thumping victory, were happy to continue with the same tactical approach. A couple of tweaks discussed were to set better leg side cover for weaker bowlers to give them confidence to bowl at the stumps more, and to develop a team culture that stays calmer when things are not going 100%.