We have hit an good rhythm with training now. The structure of sessions has settled into starting with fielding, then breaking into batting and bowling and finishing with fielding. Hopefully we will start seeing some results in the middle from the way these sessions are going.
Players are self-managing well, and I have pulled back on the more stat-based drills and games for now. I intend to return to the tracking element shortly. Turn out has also improved, with 20 players at the session.
I focused on the bowlers, specifically hitting length. This is a "feel" thing so is hard to coach other than to set up a target and talk to players about locking in the feel of the right release point. We had about eight bowlers going, and I spent time with the mitt alternating between general encouragement and specific chats about how it feels physically when you are bowling well. The aim is to highlight the importance of being aware of how you body feels when you are hitting a good length.
I also had a chat with one of our spinners about better planning and field setting. He tends to run in and bowl without much of a plan, but has a lot of good tools that could see him be a very effective bowler if he can think a little more ahead of the game and try to set batsmen up.
I also made sure I spoke to a couple of batters as I let them do their own sessions on the machine this time, but wanted to stay engaged with the group. However, I am pleased at the progress of batsmen working on specifics. We can do more, but this is a good first step.
The standing about dilemma
One final note about the fielding: a few times I have noticed players impatient if they are not doing volume work. They call it "a lot of standing about".
Now, I appreciate the value of both volume and and activity in large group drills. That said, I also feel there are moments when adult players don't need to be active to get value from a drill. Some drills have less activity because they are focusing on something specific. On those occasions we need to stay a little more focused.
An example from this session was an underarm pickup and throw drill I set up with 10 players.
The first part was a warm up so they queued up, did their drill and did a little run round to go back the the queue. I would estimate one throw per minute per player.
I then split the group into two sets of five in the classic "run out game" where one team tries to run out the other; a fielder against a batsman. After one go each we swap round. This added some pressure to the skill and allowed players to do a sprint finish to the warm up. The number of throws dropped to one per player. Each player also had on sprint to complete and the whole round (both teams) took about 3 minutes. Not high volume but much higher pressure and a good way to finish.
However, even in that 90 second period of waiting for a skill, someone said "there's a lot of standing about here".
The take home point for me is to keep the wait times low in these mass drills. It's also to stress that it's fine to "stand about" if you get something useful from it. The fear of missing two throws because you have to wait longer should be overcome by what you learn about working under pressure. As always there is a balance between viewpoints to be had.