This session was made super good with the introduction of an outdoor net.
Despite the cold, and breaks for rain, sleet and hail at various points, the sun mostly shone and the guys threw themselves into the session. Bowlers got full run ups, the pitch was realistic in pace and bounce and everyone played hard.
As it was cold, we kept the high catching to a minimum and warmed up with a few throwing drills. One, "scatter throws", descended into hilarious chaos, was fun and worked on hitting the stumps. Win.
As we only have one outdoor net, I knew not everyone was going to get to practice. So, as per my orginal intent at the start of outdoors, I sent people off in small groups based on ability. This meant the best bowlers could bowl to the best batsmen and no "training down" could be seen.
The down side was that we only got through 10 batsmen in two hours. At least half a dozen missed out. I encouraged them to use the indoor nets instead and said I would work hard to get them outside another day.
For the first team guys, I wanted them to focus on something specific in nets. We had a whiteboard to write down the goals. Sadly the rain hit the board and stopped the pen working and I didn't want to wasted time. We abandoned the idea. I will make a mental note to make the next session more focused. Although, the benefit here was built-in; practicing outside!
For those waiting to get in the nets, we had three areas: low catches, over the shoulder catches (and boundary ground fielding) and the throwdown net. I left people to do their thing themselves and flitted between groups, helping and trying to communicate the need for people to tell me what they want. It worked well.
I'm starting to hear people pipe up when they have something to feed back rather than just be a bit grumpy and say nothing. This is good progress. In this case there were two comments;
One player told me he didn't understand why sessions were labelled "batting focus" and "bowling focus" when there isn't much difference. He's right because at the moment there isn't. However, it give me freedom to prioritise if I want. I told him not to worry about it as long as he was getting what he wanted from the session. It was a fair point though. I'll keep thinking about that.
Another player told me he didn't understand why he didn't get to use a bit of specialist bowling kit we have. I told him it was available for him to use any time he wanted to use it. He mentioned he had not been told how or given permission. I said he always has permission to use any kit and if he need to know the details to simply ask.
This is a source of slight frustration to me. I buy the kit from my own pocket, make it available to players, explain how to use it and it gets ignored. Then someone new fancies a go and instead of asking, they get cross. The solution to my frustration is better communication: I will continue my mission to convince players to just ask for help!
However, I would much rather players bring these gripes to me than keep quiet. I can make changes based on feedback or clarify things if no change is needed.
We finished with me doing my new favourite drill: using a Sidearm thrower to feed a catch to a fielder off the Katchet board. It goes very fast and, with deviations from the board, means players have to really watch it all the way. It's a powerful way to overload slip catching.
Overall, we covered a huge amount of fielding, kept the batting and bowling at the right level of challenge and maintained the "self reliance" mantra.