After an indoor session on Wednesday, we had a wicket and some warm weather to have a rare middle practice on Thursday.
The rain forced us entirely indoors on Wednesday. Numbers were down and it was mainly club guys rather than performance players. However, with some ambitious guys eager to learn we used the bowling machine and PitchVision to do some technical work on various things.
An opener worked on hitting the gaps, a lower order player tried his hand at coming down the wicket to seamers and another opener looked to develop his skill at leaving outside the off stump. A few others did some work while the rest had a net in the other lane. Standard stuff, but it was something productive from what would have been a cancelled session outdoors.
When the sun came up the next day, our wonderful groundsman sidled up to me and asked me if I wanted an old wicket rolled so we could use it. I jumped at the chance! So while I drilled the guys he did his magic.
The warm up drill we tried was a new one to me and I was concerned it wouldn't work. However, it was a great success, mainly due to one of our senior guys throwing himself into it and motivating everyone to do it. It's called the 4 stump game and you can see it here (honestly, it's easier than it looks). It warms up pick ups, throws, catches and backing up in one go.
As the middle practice went on later, I asked guys to do some self-directed fielding drills. I popped in once or twice to help a bit but generally some guys just took leadership roles, moved players between practice groups, worked on different skills and kept moving.
I was delighted to see this, and feel like my mantra of "work it out for yourself" is getting through.
The main practice was a middle practice with the throwdown net string up on the leg side to save fetching balls. The off side was open and guys took turns to field there while two batters took runs.
It wasn't perfect: the fielders were not as serious as they could have been, there was no specific planning or pressure on the players and the balance between bat and ball was not always right. On a more high performance session I would like to add better focus to improve it further.
Broadly though, the learning opportunity was for guys to feel comfortable batting in the middle and running rather than being in the safety of the net. This worked well and players got a more realistic session than they would in a normal net. We also had a researcher in to do video analysis on some players backlifts and he was more than happy to make a few pointers to players on technique.
And yet again, some senior guys took it upon themselves to manage the players and make sure everyone got a go.
I don't think this kind of mixed ability session could have gone better in the circumstances. I am sure everyone got something from it. The next step is to get something even better done at a higher level on the Tuesday session.