One hand, one bounce – what’s that got to do with coaching?

When I started out at my local Club as a volunteer, level 1 Coaching Assistant, sessions were taken by an exuberant 1st XI player – lots of enthusiasm, diving catches and (attempted) big hitting, and always a fiercely contested session of one hand – one bounce, usually with said 1st XI player dominating the game.

The players seemed to love this activity, but to me, as a newly qualified “proper” coach, it looked as if one hand-one bounce existed only so the star player could show off.  Not coaching, at all.

It’s fair to say that I never liked one hand – one bounce, but I have recently started to include it my own sessions with our Club U9s.  And I think it has a place in the games-based learning panoply.

One hand – one bounce

You perhaps don’t know it by this name, but I suspect that most cricketers have played one hand – one bounce (1h1b) in some form or other.  The batter is challenged to defend his wicket (or a chair, or a rubbish bin, even his legs, French cricket-style), whilst fielders are able to take catches on the first bounce, so long as they use just the one hand.

It is a raucous game, with a baying ring of close fielders scrabbling around the batter’s feet to take catches, although generally tempered by the “no attacking shots” rule – to protect the close-in fielders, any hard hits result in instant dismissal.

I have been using a (very slightly) refined version of the game as a component of a whole-part-whole session on defensive techniques.  1h1b challenges the players to develop a batting technique that keeps the ball down and close to their own feet.  I allow (encourage, even) strategic placement of strokes into gaps so long as the ball is played gently.

We specify a “fielders’ ring” 2-3 m from the bat (no catchers inside the ring before the ball is played), and an outer ring 5 m out – hits beyond the outer ring are automatically Out, as are any hits behind the wicket into the slips area.

If we want to keep score, we might play “all against all” and note individual tallies, or play two teams off against each other.

After a round (e.g. everyone faces 6 deliveries from the coach, score 1 point for surviving a ball, lose 1 point for getting out) we review successful vs. unsuccessful techniques, maybe suggest alternative approaches, maybe (rarely, with my Club groups) formally drill the angled bat and top-hand control; then play again.

The “part” drill & instruction could certainly be more explicit; with more coaches, it would probably be more effective – I generally work by myself or with a junior coaching assistant (if I am very lucky) and 12-16 players, and the limiting factor in a drill is often the quality of the feed – even with a competent assistant we are left with two lines of 8 players waiting for a go.  With a lower player:coach ratio, we could spend more time on drilling the technique…but only if we still left enough time for another game.

I sometimes allow the sessions to develop into last-man-standing, to put the skills into an even more game-like context.

Last-Man-Standing

  • Like relay cricket with batters waiting in turn to face the bowling, then running and being replaced by the next in line, but with everyone batting against a coach bowling;
  • still with the inner fielders’ ring but with the outer ring pushed back to 10m;
  • hit the ball (or miss it) and run to the bowler’s end;
  • when you are out (bowled, caught, run-out, blatant/deliberate LBW) you join the fielders;
  • last man standing wins if he can survive 2-3 deliveries (so you don’t have a winner by default who survives only because everyone else gets out).

The challenge of hitting the ball away from fielders gets progressively harder as the number of fielders increases, but we do now allow 360° stroke play.

It’s a good game for further developing a defensive technique, but also emphasises the need to try to score runs (or rotate the strike) even when forced to play defensively.  The more advanced players might already know to look for and hit gaps; some even ramp, lap or reverse sweep; the others see what success looks like and try the shots for themselves.

The fielding is generally sharp (no-one wants to let their team mates win), and the games can become very competitive, but, because of the emphasis on control over power, games are not so easily dominated by the older and bigger players.

Careful game management by the coaches (plus the absence of any fielders other than a long-stop/keeper at the beginning of the game) usually means that everyone gets at least a couple of hits before joining the fielders.

And we get to finish a session with a competitive, engaging, and, most importantly, FUN game that can stretch batting techniques at almost any level.

Not bad for a couple of games that are no more than just a hit-and-a-giggle.

Published by

Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB CA cricket coach working at the MCC Academy, the Essex Indoor Cricket Centre, and with the junior sections at Oakfield Parkonians CC & Regent's Park CC; All Stars Cricket Activator; ECB ACO umpire.

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