Making practice fun – games-based learning

We have belatedly started outdoor practice for the Colts, after the wettest start to a season many of us can remember, and we are now racing to make up time.

Inspired by the 2012 edition of the ECB CA’s “Wings to Fly” DVD, we are very keen to introduce more games-based learning to our practice sessions. We are lucky to have the Colts together for two hours a week, and access to a large playing field – no restrictions on time or space, just our imagination!

We have adopted the street20 format for our games (see the inspirational cricket4change site for more information on the inspiration for this game), with “tactical” modifications to bring in extra skills and learning opportunities.

Played 6-a-side, every player except the wicket-keeper bowls a four-ball over (hence 20 deliveries to the innings), batsmen can be dismissed (so the game can be brutal and short – a stern lesson compared to batting in the nets), and the games move ahead at a great pace.

street20 has several advantages for practice, indoors or out:

  1. games can be played in a very short time (15-20 minutes), and four-team tournament comfortably completed in an evening, with plenty of time to introduce individual skills sessions and to talk tactics;
  2. every one is involved, all the time (incoming batsman can be sent to stand at square leg, others set to keep the score, or even told off to retrieve boundary hits, if you are playing outdoors);
  3. the game is close enough to proper cricket that there is no real introduction needed.

The last point is very important, as we want to get the Colts playing as soon as possible each evening.  Having to explain a complicated game each week takes time, and prevents every one (coaches included, if I am honest) from getting on with what they want to do – play cricket!

Our first attempts at learning scenarios are deliberately simple, as we want to use them to develop basic playing skills with the U11 squad – bowling and hitting straight, running quickly between the wickets.  But a conversation with our U13 Manager highlighted a more sophisticated tactical challenge that could be played out in street20, with a pair of batters set to chase down a steep target in a short period of time.

More on this as the season progresses.

For the first few weeks, we will probably “just play games”

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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