Cast an eye over suburban training sessions and what do you see? Nets, bowlers charging in, batters cracking the ball, it’s all happening.

 

The question is though… is it really that beneficial? The biggest test in our game is the ability to replicate what happens out in the middle on the weekend, at your Tuesday/Thursday night training.

 

From my experience much of the session is not overly focused on anything. Sit back and see that it’s just a sort of going through the motions.

 

Bowlers charge in, bowl the ball, have a bit of a laugh and batters hit for 10 minutes and that’s it.

 

My question I always ask is how many times batters and bowlers are put out of their comfort zone?

 

How many times at training are you actually spending time setting up a batsmen, or alternatively bowling to a set plan?

 

Batters, do you go through your pre ball routine? Set a batting plan or work on your scoring zones?

 

Most of the time, batters have no knowledge of results. Did they pierce that gap through extra cover? How many runs do I need to score in these middle overs?

 

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Below is a guide to making your net sessions more match like, which will hopefully see an improvement in game awareness, consistency in your performance and an overall better output for all at training.

 

1.Simulation

The biggest underutilized tool for developing players is letting them explore what they would do in situations.

 

The only time you are going to learn how to bat at the death, or how to rotate the strike is by doing and playing.

 

The hope with this is trying to accelerate this outcome and help develop thinking cricketers by doing it in the nets.

 

It may be as simple as setting up different batting scenarios in multiple nets and let the batting pairs run through each for 4 or so minutes.

 

The bowling group have the opportunity to set fields and develop bowling plans... This just adds an extra element of competition.

 

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The opportunities are endless with this, but it really is hardly done.

 

2.Grouping of Players

Facing lefties, then a spin bowler, then a right arm pace bowler hardly is a way of emulating game like training.

 

Perhaps we limit the amount of bowlers to 3 or so per net? Have a spin net even?

 

What about each bowler bowling 6 balls at a batter? Could we have 3 bowlers per net, 1 umpires, one bowls and the other does some catching between overs or speaks to a coach and reviews their over or plans for the next over?

 

The other thing you find is that all your top line bowlers start bowling right from the get go and after a period of time coaches and players are looking for bowlers to finish the session off, and most of the time it’s the part timers that have to make up the numbers for the poor old bowlers when they bat.

 

Splitting your session into two can work. Split your bowlers and batters up and ensure some of your better bowlers are batting to other better bowlers. This also gives a spread of quality quicks over the whole session.

 

3.Change Training Conditions

The opening bowlers get the brand new rocks, the spinners get the old balls, and the inbetweener’s get whatever is left…

 

Why don’t we practice bowling with older balls as much? You are only really bowling with a new ball for max 4 or 5 overs… most of the game is with an older ball.

 

Some ways to alter training environments can be;

  • Split bowling spells into two. Go off and field and come back with an older ball and a different plan to simulate second and third spells.

 

  • Try and execute player’s skills under fatigue. We don’t practice batting or bowling towards the end of the day when we are fatigued as much.

 

  • Have different nets with different types of bowling (new ball, middle, and death). This way both batters and bowlers get to develop plans for particular types of bowling.

 

  • Implement distractions in between balls to take players away from their routines and help them practice with switching off from other distractions and focus on executing the skill.

 

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4.Competitive Elements

The hardest thing possible out of everything I think is to create that competitive environment that happens in the heat of the battle.

 

As previously mentioned splitting bowling contests into 6 balls per bowler, or even 2 bowlers bowling 6 balls each and then swapping can be a way to bring out some more competition.

 

Rather than just going through the motions of batting to anyone, you are locked into a contest, and make it all the more realistic giving you time between balls to let certain thoughts/emotions creep in.

 

A perfect time to train your between ball routine, and develop ways that help you switch on and off in between balls.

 

Perhaps even setting some competition or rules in place. If the bowler gets out during their stint the bowling group wins, alternatively if the batting team doesn’t lose a wicket they win.

 

Turn the session into a competition of two groups at training.

 

Perhaps it’s even just an onus on the playing group directed by coaching staff to show a bit of aggression and competition during the session.

 

 

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