"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!"
Many of the top cricket coaching in the world believe the preparation of cricket training sessions and activities are the most important components to ensure the performance of their team. Spending some time pre-season mapping out a season planner and then breaking down the plan and mapping out guidelines for each session is an invaluable exercise. Of course many variables may affect the end result of the session, but to have something to work from is the key. The key to avoiding the monotonous boredom that traditional cricket training in the nets is renowned for.
Too often net training follows the same path, that's where the batters pad-up for a 10 minute hit and everybody else bowls and then training continues until everybody has batted. The major problem with that is, because of the time length and boredom factor, a major deterioration of intensity and quality results. In an attempt to overcome the monotony of net practice, I will list various suggestions to maximising the benefits of net practice and also some training alternatives.
Traditional net practice lacks purpose and tends to be mundane and monotonous. Whatever your net practice, set goals so that players are practicing with a specific purpose. This will provide them with immediate feedback of their performance in relation to the demands of the task. Net practice can provide a perfect opportunity to attend to some specific coaching demands if everyone is active. It is important to try to simulate match conditions as best we can in most cases.
4 bowlers (pair the bowlers in similar types)
Give a game scenario (e.g... 5 wickets down, 3 runs an over for the next thirty overs) Bowlers and batters develop a strategy and share this with you Bowlers set field, encourage them to try - on occasions - to rush the batsmen. Spinners may bowl their deliveries consecutively. One over on, one off teaches them about getting onto length straight away.
Batters emphasis on singles and use of a routine to help them to be optimally ready for each delivery. Allow them to call for runs, thereby changing the strike.
The aim of the task is for bowlers to deliver as many balls as possible without the batsmen being able to just let the ball go. If a batsman is dismissed then a new batter enters the net. Rotate batters if no dismissal - possibly right and left handed to teach bowlers to cope with changing line. Extra stumps may be placed alongside the off-stump to receive feedback in leaving the balls close to your stumps.
Batsman are at their most vulnerable early in their innings, however this is an aspect which is all but ignored at cricket practice. The following drill seeks to replicate some aspects of commencing an innings, thereby giving players extra practice at developing strategies for this situation.
4 batters - 2 in net at one time
4 bowlers - bowl in pairs, 1 over each then rotate
Batsmen aim to get off strike, if dismissed they are rotated. Rotate batters at any time if not dismissed after having faced more than an over up to three overs. Continue until all players have had the chance to begin their innings at least twice and ideally up to four times. Highlights to bowlers the importance of bowling well to new batsmen.
Batsmen usually have time to get themselves organised before facing a delivery, however they certainly need to be able to re-focus quickly (to control arousal). Batsmen lie or sit on pitch (holding their bat) and they are not able to move into position until signaled to do so by the coach. The aim is to give them only just enough time to settle down before the bowler delivers the ball - strengthening their ability to calm themselves and focus. This activity can also be useful for bowlers who may initially find difficulty in concentrating on the task. Quite tiring for batsmen and therefore they face only 5 - 10 deliveries before they rotate
Batsmen in normal stance ready with two throwers half a pitch away, one on each side of the pitch with a ball each. One ball is thrown, batsman encouraged using correct and quick footwork and once stroke is completed the next ball will be fed and played accordingly. NB: If the level of intensity drops below your expectations, end the net session. Move onto something that will use the time more effectively, such as some physical conditioning or fielding drills.
Centre Wicket Practice
In the format of dual pitch cricket (details following), one team fielding whilst the batting team will be working purposefully in the nets until their turn to visit the centre wicket.
Pairs Dual Pitch cricket is designed to keep all players actively involved in the game at all times. The game is conducted on 2 pitches adjacent to each other, i. e. adjoining grounds.
There are 10, 12 or 14 players on each team. In a team of 12, 10 players on field, 2 players bat. Team I fields on Pitch A and bats on Pitch B. At the same time Team II fields on Pitch B and bats on Pitch A. Each team is divided into pairs and each pair bats for 2 overs irrespective of wickets lost. At the end of their 2 overs the batting pair swaps with 2 of their team mates fielding on the opposite pitch.
The batters change ends at the fall of a wicket or after 3 consecutive non-scoring deliveries. Batters may be dismissed by all the usual means except LBW.
During the game each player will bowl one over.
The score is calculated on the product of wickets taken and runs scored.
e. g. Team I captured 9 wickets and made 62 runs
Team II captured 5 wickets and made 72 runs
Results: Team I 9 x 62 = 558
Team II = 8 x 70 = 560
If a team fails to lose a wicket both teams add one (1) to their wicket totals.
Tabloid - Groups Of Six
Commencing each time six players arrive. Groups will rotate through six stations (for 36 players), assuming we have two nets and all required equipment. For a 90 minute session, groups will spend 15 minutes at each station (nets count as two stations, i.e. 30 minutes).
Activity 1 Conditioning: 10 x 50m, 10 x 40m, 100 sit-ups, 60 push-ups, 50 half squats
Activity 2 Catching Tennis: 3 on 3, marked area with dead zone
Activity 3 Nets: Bowling in pairs with purpose
Activity 4 Nets: Batting in pairs with purpose
Activity 5 Fielding: Long, short - ground and catching
Activity 6 Flexibility: PNF, major muscle groups
The six activity stations could be made up of many activities such as throwing at stumps, cradle catching, tennis ball/racquet catching, mini-soccer, weight training, football drills, basketball drills, batting off tees, target bowling, running between wickets, agility tests, etc.
Early comers can do their training and avoid hanging around
Late comers will do the same workload as others
Specialize (small groups)
Clear session outline
The amount of drills and activities that can be built into the sixes format is endless. Any combination of skill and fitness activities can be incorporated, dependent on relevant objectives and focus of the session.
Many of the skill development activities following would be most suitable for building into the 'groups' format.