Cricket Australia Coaching
Surviving the Cricket coaching experience
The backbone of cricket skill development for many decades has been backyard, beach and school yard cricket games and sometimes social.
Add to this the many hours invested at home playing little games such as hitting a ball in a stocking, bowling at a set of stumps, hitting balls with a stump against a wall and pretending to be Michael Clarke or many other super stars of the game by mimicking their styles.
In these games we get out and get hit for four; however we always seem to return to have another crack at it. Many daylight saving hours and weekends were used up in this crucial development of skill.
Why is it then as coaches, that we change the approach when we ask players to join formal teams and attend formal practices?
We practice in nets, I get an 8 minute chance to bat but I am never out, I bowl and no ball gets hit for four even if it is hit over the fence, I am told I have to have my elbow up, play with a straight bat, stand side on, hold the bat with my hands together- in the middle of the handle, cup my hands to catch, watch the ball, step to the pitch of the ball, play with my bat and pad close together and so it goes on.
Cricket has many technical aspects to it, and unfortunately this has made it a difficult sport to recruit coaches into it at the lower levels. A lot of the literature is also very explicit in its directions of skill development within the game.
Traditional practice has always been based around a net facility which is quite far removed from the actual playing environment. Most other sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball and Australian Rules football to name a few train in the same environment that they play in and therefore make the training more game like.
A key point is that everyone is attracted to the GAME and many of our first experiences with cricket, as mentioned earlier are in the backyard, school yard or at the beach.
So let’s play GAMES!!!
Creating the ultimate cricket training and learning environment will have all the tasks that are required in the actual game itself. So training as you play will provide the errors, mistakes and successes that provide us with all of the content required for improvement and the players to find the appropriate solutions to the myriad of problems that are faced.
In games the players get instant feedback and will do much of their own development based around game performance outcomes. If a player has made three ducks in a row they are more inclined to work through the processes required to improve.
At the beginners Level admittedly there are some base technique requirements such as batting grip and stance, straight bowling arm and how to catch. Many of the rest of the skills need to be worked within the context of the game as the game is extremely random from different players and their skill sets to playing conditions and rules.
To do so we as coaches need to provide the environment that allows the players to experience the performances that are required to be effective in the game of cricket.
The environment provides;
- A wide range of REAL cricket experiences – “Game Like”
- Game and activity rules but NOT technique rules.
- A fair place to play
- Maximum participation
- Successes and mistakes
As Coaches our role is in the planning and the facilitating of an environment that will provide an opportunity for players to use their own senses to adjust and improve, this includes:
- Allowing them to discover.
- The briefing and debriefing of the activities
- Questions – Drawing answers from the players
- Being positive
- Changing the environment to meet the players development needs
- Staying away from explicit technique rules
What do they look like?
- Activities with a purpose and a focus on external effects, outcomes i.e. where it needs to be hit.
- The Full Game
- Part games scenarios or role play.
- Nets or drills that have game like outcomes or accountability (i.e. when you’re out your out!)
When approaching game activities it’s important to be organised. When looking at full game scenarios start a “Game Book” which you can fill with your Performance Tasks, here is an example of some below.
- Last 10 overs,2 wickets in hand,73 to win
- First 7 overs, can’t lose a wicket [new ball]
- Batting first, final 7 overs of ODI
- One wicket in hand, 9 overs to save game
- Spinners bowling,16 overs, target 80 runs
- Scoring at 4.5 over for 12 overs
As coaches you can also look at process tasks as we have listed below, all skills that are required throughout games for all ages and forms.
How can you change the environment to assist the development of these?
- Concentrating on singles
- Tippy go, boundaries are out, control the depth of the fielders
- Hitting in front of square on the off side
- If you hit behind square you are out, put a heap of fielders behind square
- Eliminating lofted shots
- Place an inner ring around the batter, anything over is out, place height targets on the nets.
- Batting against Swing
- Give the bowlers a new ball!!!
- Bowling to an off side field
- Stack the off side field, provide an external target, penalise them for the balls you don’t not want to have.
The environment that cricket coaches create can be both positive and negative; it can create a love of the game or disappoint and it can make or break performance. It’s in your hands, be brave and be different.