Continuous hand cricket…sounds convoluted, but it’s well worth a try!

Over the half term break I attended a training session for Chance to Shine coaches, generously hosted by Essex Cricket in the Community.

Expertly delivered by Dan Feist, Head of Cricket Operations at Essex County Cricket Club, the focus was on the “Teach” component of the Chance to Shine offering, designed to introduce KS1 teachers and Teaching Assistants to simple, cricket-based games that they can deliver in PE lessons.

Favourite activity on the day was “continuous hand cricket” — essentially a modified version of continuous cricket for small playing areas, with the batter using their hand rather than a bat, and clever rules to constrain player behaviours.

Continuous Hand Cricket

I had seen this game on the tweet from Essex Cricket in the Community, back in February this year, but I really hadn’t appreciated the subtleties inherent in the simple game.

The playing area needs to be defined, by existing lines on the floor (as little as half a badminton court works well for 8-10 players) or cones; stumps give the bowler something to aim at, but a simple “gate of cones” works as well; fielders start on the “boundary”, but can move as soon as the ball is hit.

Players hit the ball with alternate hands (left, then right, then left again), and run to either side of the court. The bowler delivers the ball as soon as its is returned to her; if the batter isn’t back in time, bad luck!

The ball has to stay within the playing area (unless a “straight hit” boundary is defined, as a progression).

You can play “three strikes (as in the video) or “6 hits & next batter” (or whatever format works — just make sure everyone gets a turn, and no-one bats for too long).

The game encourages (transferable) tactical thinking from the batters — playing the ball away from the fielders means the batter gets more time to run and return; hitting long when the fielders close in, or short if they defend the “boundary”.

Striking the ball with one hand actually encourages the batter to adopt a strong, side-on position, that converts readily into a batting stance.

If a player hits strongly with the “strong” hand, challenge them to use the back of their weaker hand…and watch them reproduce the top-hand movement needed to control a cricket bat.

In practice

I have already tried out the hand cricket game with several schools – two classes of yr8 girls, 3 mixed classes of yr2s and 1 of yr3s

It went down really well — children (mostly) very engaged, teachers frantically taking notes and asking about adaptations.

And, because of the continuous bowling, fielders are constantly engaged.

I didn’t police the rules that strictly, especially with the younger ones – with 30 7-yr olds, I was more concerned with seeing them play any cricket-related game than worrying if the odd ball ended up leaving the playground and landing on the field.

With the older girls, we allowed the game to develop to use a bat, as we had plenty of space on the playground — a netball court for each 4v4 game.

In conclusion

Interestingly, continuous hand cricket seems to comply with the Environment Design Principles outlined in “The Constraints-Led Approach: Principles for Sports Coaching & Practice Design”, by Renshaw, Davids, Newcombe & Roberts.

  • There are, most certainly, performance- or outcome-based intentions.
  • The constraints and modifications to the game offer, invite or encourage learners to explore the opportunities for action.
  • Players receive cues in the game (ball delivered, semi-randomly, by an opponent; active fielding) that mimic some of those seen under match play conditions.
  • There is opportunity for much “repetition without repetition”!

Oh, and the game is a lot of fun!

Definitely a winner!

I’ll be using it again!

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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