Head hunting – another approach to getting more from net practice.

Back in November, David Hinchliffe proposed a novel way of getting the most from net practice, with what he described as the “horror movie” approach.  I suggested adding a camera, to give the Blair Witch net session.

I have been looking for more ways to make net practice more competitive, and more realistic, but I don’t think our 1st XI will take kindly to “consequence” nets (5 press ups if you get bowled), and if we implement “if you are out, you’re out” net practice might finish rather early!

So we have been trying the “head hunter” net – setting the bowlers the task of identifying and ruthlessly exploiting any weakness they can in the batsmen.  And the results so far have been interesting.

We have several level 2 qualified coaches at the Club who are not actively coaching, at the moment. Which is a shame, as they are all good cricketers, and possibly even better observers of the game, and it would be great to have more help with the coaching.

But I have found a way of getting them to be more involved by running “head hunter” nets.  The level 2 coaches, trained to observe divergence from technical models, are great at doing this, but you don’t need qualified coaches – a couple of experienced bowlers will be just as good (maybe even better).

And the bowlers then have to work to a (realistic) plan of attack (or defence – sometimes, they will work simply to denying the batter the opportunity to smear the ball over mid-wicket).

Which in turn makes the batters work harder, and forces them to think about their techniques and how to apply them to best effect.

There are challenges.

  • The bowlers need to be able identify genuine weaknesses, and ones that are likely to be relevant in matches – not being able to play the skidding bouncers that the quicks can deliver with a newish ball on a hard gym floor will hardly matter on the majority of slow pitches we play on.
  • An experienced coach needs to temper any comments about technical flaws with a sensible approach to intervention – to change the batsman’s set-up, or how a stroke is played, or simply to advise better shot selection…or even to leave the batsman to work out his own solutions.
  • Sometimes, the perceived weakness can be a tendency to react badly to sledging, and I have certainly seen this being tested.  We have not had a fight, yet…but we do still have 10 weeks’ indoor practice.

Still – managing these challenges has to be worth the effort if the players, batsmen and bowlers, are benefiting from the more competitive, head hunting practice.

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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