The final session of the week was lower in numbers, but we had enough to get some quality work done, with the focus again on self-directed training and adding pressure. These sessions usually result in some creative training too!
The pressure part was handled by tracking performance in a couple of throwing and catching drills. We simply keep a whiteboard running while we try and hit the stumps or take catches. As the group was small I did it for them this week. The idea is to make players feel under pressure because we are keeping track of how they do.
We also set up the throwdown net to do some inner ring fielding, both off side and leg side. The punishment for a misfield or drop was a change of position in the ring. Enough to be a little bit embarrassing but nothing scarring. With a batsman hitting proper drives, cuts and pulls with a proper bat, this is super-realistic and can only result in better ring fielding for the guys in the game.
After an hour and a lot of hands on balls, we got back together and said "what do you want to do?"
This always gets a mixed response. Some players put their hands up to do something they have been looking to do straight away. Others stare at me blankly like I have asked them the time in Chinese. However, it's a superb question to get across the point of self-sufficiency. Players are starting to realise they need to guide their own games. My job is to facilitate that not tell them what to do.
As always, after some umms and ahhs we nailed it. We had three groups: One batting in nets, one bowling on the outfield and one doing throwdown drills with the bat. The last two groups quickly amalgamated into one with spinners bowling to batsmen who were trying to get into the outdoor batting mentality of getting forward and playing late. Creative and effective self-led development.
For the batsmen, I am starting to think group nets fall into two basic categories:
- Batting under scenario pressure.
- Batting specific fitness (running drills) .
- Picking line and length and shot selection.
You can get a lot of tactical and mental skills from the first two, as long as you set them up right. Based on this, I will be expanding range of games from the 421 game throughout the season with the aim of developing players who are good under pressure, even in nets.
The last one is a little more vague and is at the intersection of technique and tactics. I'll need to think more about that.
As the darkness crept up on us, a few guys finished up while I did some range hitting with two batsmen. It was simple stuff; I threw a full toss, the batter tried to welly it into next week. It's a skill neither was especially good at, but we learned a few things about how to improve. This stage of skill development can be frustrating with a lot of failure, but if you think beyond the last mis-hit you start to realise it's worth the pain.