Thursday sessions seem to have settled into a far more relaxed practice. There are fewer players and the first team guys tend to stay away, leaving room for new members and guys hovering around the second and third teams. This naturally gives a less intense feel to things.
However, it is still enough of a mixture of guys that you can get something done. I wouldn't want it to get so relaxed that it is a social event rather than practice. And the guys all have a focused approach, even those not getting a regular game.
We did a couple of fielding drills and then had nets. I tested out a new sensor for PitchVision just to see if it worked (it did). I ran the drills, focusing on ground work of course, and asked guys again to self-manage nets with the instruction of fielding when not bowling.
Naturally, the fielding idea fell apart quickly. I am still experimenting with what kind of self-policed training works and what doesn't. Most things just don't work with these club guys. No one takes responsibility to manage it and it stops as soon as the coach looks away. This is frustrating to me, but there is little I can do. I can't manage two or three separate groups at once so must rely on players self-managing and people taking leadership. I am still thinking how we can change this.
That said, players are starting to get the message that they can do stuff without needing a prompt from the coach every time. In this session several guys did their own thing with fielding drills while I was otherwise engaged. The bowling in nets did not become a free for all with the bowling. Guys helped each other out by hitting balls and bowling past when they could have stopped. It was an encouraging environment.
Oe of the down sides of the "self-sufficient" approach is players use it as an excuse to do nothing. One guy arrived early at nets but did not emerge from the changing room until around 20 minutes after training had begun. He was fully padded up because a young bowler had decided to get a quick bowl done alone in nets. The batsman in question had not warmed up with the others because he is resting a sore shoulder and bruised hand. However he did still participate in things later when it suited him.
He might argue he just wants to bat due to resting his niggles. It's a good point. It also looks terrible when a first team player saunters around like he owns the place. He is creating a reputation as someone who is only out for himself and doesn't care about with his own team mates or other club members. People notice this and naturally give you less of a chance as a result. It's human nature to want to avoid people you don't like.
However, I was glad to see that he helped out later, throwing and hitting balls for others and even bowling a few in nets when I know he genuinely does have a bad shoulder. This is good to see and I hope it came via the example of others who threw themselves into helping out.
Also, despite the lower overall standards, I kept insisting on maintaining the basics to a high level. I have taken on feedback about being a touch more serious about the standards I want to see. Now I am pushing people to go for and take catches, throw themselves at the ball and return throws to me with accuracy. I disapprove when it goes wrong much more vocally, and maintain the positive reinforcement when it goes well.
Im personally learning that to get the best from people as a coach, I need to understand each person individually and adapt. There are times when a group needs a leader and some direction. However, the less I do that, the more likely it becomes that training does not go as planned. My job is to better design the sessions so they better match the player's personalities. I'm slowly learning what that is for each person. Meanwhile, the ultimate aim is to push at their limits to help them get the best from themselves.