Interesting net session yesterday, working with a batsman to get ready for the new season. Lots of work on grooving the bat path, a little on developing bat speed.
We were next to a group who had set up a (small) speaker in their net, and played music during their practice.
This could have been a distraction – we generally practice in a controlled (even slightly sterile) environment, where the only sounds are bat on ball, or ball on canvas, or occasionally the slap of skipping ropes and bouncing medballs – but I saw real benefits from having the music playing.
I think there is a lot to be said for taking a player (and coach) out of their comfort zone
I run club nets for a University team. Before Christmas, we were getting 40 players, or more, coming to sessions, and the only way to accommodate them all was to have batters in the nets in pairs.
One player complained that he could not practice like that. He wanted to face every ball, for 10 minutes, or he “wasn’t really working”. I asked him how often he got to play 40 or 50 balls in 10 minutes, delivered alternately by 4 or 5 different bowlers, in a match?
Yes, you want to hit as many balls as possible in practice, and there is a time for doing this. But you also need to be able to switch concentration to “full” when facing the bowling, then to turn down the dial in between deliveries, or when you are standing at the non-striker’s end, then up again when you get back on strike.
And that is a skill that needs to be practised, just as much as hitting 50 random balls.
The music last night? Yes, it was a distraction. But not an unwelcome one, I felt.
Just like batting in a game, when conditions change, when the opposition cheep, when your mind is still at work, or at home, or preparing for an exam or a trip abroad.
Practise as you will play.
My own choice of tracks probably would not be all that conducive to any type of constructive practice…although more than one of my favourites might come close to my proposed new component for the coaching kit bag, sledging!