Coaching Structure

Another topic touched on by Chris on his personal blog and one that should be read alongside the Development Cricket post.

Think the first thing to say is that if the Old School mid week net lasting two hours rotating as many batters through for a 10 minute thrash, everyone having to bowl for 90 minutes, maybe a nod in the direction of ‘team nets’ and no fielding is for you, then this post isn’t, on the other hand if you think quality over quantity, specialisation and working on match awareness and skills could help you club it may be worth grabbing a coffee …. and we can even help with that!

One of the greatest introductions to cricket in recent years has been Play Cricket. One of the most under used pieces of ‘kit’ available to a club and/or coach is ….. Play Cricket!

A ‘deep dive’ or as we old ones used to call it, analysis, of your clubs Play Cricket Stats will give you the basic structure for your coaching structure/sessions e.g.

  • Extras: how accurate and consistent and your bowlers? What is the average number of Extras you give away and where would that number be in your own teams batting averages?
  • Opening Partnerships: what is your average opening partnership and at what run rate? How much pressure does your top order put on the middle order?
  • Scoring Shots: how many 4s and 6s are your middle order/finishers/power hitters getting? Too many times I see a ‘slow but steady’ top order ‘lay the foundation’ for the middle order to increase the run rate: when the middle order run rate is no different from the top order and is based on 1s and 2s.
  • Wickets: at what stage of an innings are you taking wickets? Are field settings too aggressive/not aggressive enough?

These are examples. Players themselves should be encouraged (taught) how to analyse their stats, captains should make it a major part of their role both for developing their team and preparing a team, and Directors of Cricket should be au fait will all aspects of the data provided.

Another innovation that isn’t used anywhere near enough, which is ironic given how much time we all spend on them, is the smartphone, specifically the video e.g.

  • Video a typical net session and see how many players are standing around doing nothing at any one time.
  • Are players getting other players to video their batting/bowling so they can analyse and work on specific areas.
  • During games are videos being made (and discussed) on running between the wickets, fielding positions (are you really saving 1, or defending a 2).
  • How much of the available space is being used?

This last point is something that I worked on a lot during my coaching this year. I took none bowlers out of the nets a) they were never going to bowl in games and b) they provided no meaningful practise for the batters. I taught players how to do throw downs and use dog throwers and used one net to use these players to work on drills with batters specific to their development needs before they moved into a net to face bowlers (who bowled three balls in succession to give them time to think about their next ball and batters time to go through their set up routines – I used other bowlers to video their teammates bowling or batting).

Each net session started with a chat about the previous games performance and some fielding drills which simulated match play as much as possible. We then had groups divided by batters (top order, middle order), bowlers (spin, seam), development players and usually had 4 to 6 groups using the three nets and on the outfield working in small groups on very specific ‘things’.

Regularly we had small game style sessions at the end on the astro turf pitch, again focussed on one or two game specific situations: death bowling, taking singles etc.

We identified an individual to do some basic fitness drills based around cricket (if I was involved with a club I would look to setup weekly fitness classes for the community based on ‘fielding ‘cricket skills’ and get people coming into the club, and getting fitter), we identified players to take the warm up sessions before the game, taught players how to help each other with pre game drills, we will be working on matching players abilities and fitness to specific fielding positions over the winter.

Talking of winter ……. why not adopt the same approach to winter nets? Why have everyone at every net? Maybe do that one in four with the focus being fielding drills and some indoor cricket, but the other weeks run specific nets for specific groups – again, quality over quantity.

I would say the main thing to try and achieve is to get players thinking: about their own game and how they can improve and the team as a whole and how they can contribute more.

Finally, I asked them to set themselves a program for the winter. By way of example you could look at Chris’s own off season plans in this post on his personal blog.