Over the course of the winter indoor season, our Colts’ teams have twice been turned over by an opposition side fielding two or more spinners. Not unlike England against Pakistan, in fact.
There was no suggestion that they were undone by “mystery” spinners, nor even by bowling that was exceptionally good. They simply did not know how to deal with a problem they had not faced before.
In truth (and speaking as one of the coaching team), this is a failure of coaching, for not helping them to prepare for new challenges, or for not teaching the young players to think on their feet, most certainly not of the players.
So the latest edition of the ECB CA “Wings to Fly” could not have been more timely. The focus is on “purposeful practice” – allowing the players to learn for themselves by making practice as much like the game as possible.I completed my ECB “Coach” (level 2) qualification in 2011, and I have tried to adopt the practices of games-based learning into my coaching sessions. The emphasis (of the courses I have attended, and of my own instinctive coaching style) has been on drill-based practices, however, with games used mostly to illustrate successful application of a particular skill – learn to play the pull, then play a variant of the Lord’s game with the pull stroke, for example.
The challenge presented to the coach who adopts games-based learning more fully is to design practice sessions that engage and challenge players, of all ages, with game-specific scenarios.
The games themselves are relatively easy to devise, or to adapt. Building into them the opportunity to learn and practice new skills, and, and the more advanced level, to work out new strategies on-the-fly, is more interesting.
Thanks to “Wings to Fly”, I already have some ideas.
And for our Colts who struggled against spin? I can see lots of target- and nomination-hitting against throw downs – in the nets or the gym, working balls into designated target areas. It might be an old-fashioned “8 to win off 6 balls”, but the challenge will be to achieve that with controlled placement.