The first league game of the season looms, so that was my focus in this practice. The session looked like it was going to be wet, and it was guaranteed to be cold. So the challenge was to deal with rain and still get a good session going.
Despite the poor conditions, the turnout was still about 15 guys. I'm still amazed by this motivated turn out and want to do everything to make the sessions worthwhile for everyone.
The first section of the session was about doing work we could continue if it rained. So, we had a long game of "hand hockey", splitting the players into two teams and scoring goals. I much prefer this to playing football to warm up. First, no accidental sliding tackles and second it adds ball skill work to a simple warm up.
We then moved onto a sliding race. The ground was slippery enough that we could make it fun and still work on an important, yet overlooked skill. I wish I had footage of some of the diving, both good and bad!
The drill was two races between the hand hockey teams. The first race was a three metre crab crawl dash: Hands and feet on the floor (no knees) and crawling sideways back and forth tagging in the next player.
The second race was a sprint to the boundary rope and back. The catch was, halfway out you had to dive under a pole, get up and leg it back to tag the next player. It was fantastic fun, the players seemed to love it.
I was still concerned with the wet, so we split into groups to train fielding outdoors and batting and bowling indoors. I didn't set up any specific games for the nets, but I did ask the players to focus on their objective for the net. We spit into spin and seam, with the seamers bowling on PitchVision.
In hindsight, I am not sure how useful it is having quicker bowlers in fast indoor nets bowling short to batsmen who can't get out. This would not happen in the middle in the first game, and noone is learning much going into the match. I'll have to think how we can better use the indoor nets as early-season game prep.
I wanted one net to be technical work and throwdowns, but the players voted me down. I'm OK with players leading the session, as long as they get wheat they want from it. I'm not convinced they did, but I was happy to discuss it with individuals to see how they felt it went.
Some players chose to stay out of indoor nets because conditions are too different from early season batting, either getting outfield throwdowns or doing some throwing and catching practice. The latter is not fun or easy in the cold, but they got stuck in. I would have liked more time with this group, but I can't split my attention well enough.
I tried to have a good chat with every top order batsman and first team bowler before and after the session. As always, I was spread thin but I got to speak with four senior batsmen and a senior bowler about plans for the weekend and how to get practice suitable for a slow, low, bowler-friendly track in cold conditions. They guys seem very confident of their game plans, and my aim was to make sure preparation allowed for this to be practised as realistically as possible.
Overall, I think this was my least productive session, especially in the second half in the nets with seamers. We didn't measure much, although we did get some good footage on PitchVision that I am still to analyse. I virtually ignored the fielding group, although I did ask our overseas player to help with some drills. We got plenty of thinking time and focused work done, even though rain loomed the whole time. My lesson learned from this session is to keep pushing players to take responsibility for their development by having clearer plans. If I trust the guys to do what they need to do to get what they want I will feel a lot more comfortable. Right now, I'm not sure everyone is there, but we are all making progress.