I am setting myself a task for this year, to write up more session plans.
My preference is to ad lib around a session “theme”. I know what I’m going to do next, but no-one else does, so the plans will be for the coaches I work with and also for a couple of the boys who might appreciate a little less chaos and a bit more structure from my Saturday sessions!
It will work for me, as well, as much to capture the thinking behind the “plans” as actually to use them again.
I am working with a group of u11s this term. Mostly yr6, but with several yr5s who have already played (or aspire this summer to play) hard ball cricket. Most already have sound basic cricket skills, and they are all keen.
The stated aim of the group is “…to progress participants so they can become more proficient with hard ball cricket”, so I shall try to include some hard ball elements each week — bowling and fielding, especially; perhaps some batting against a bowling machine — whilst avoiding traditional net practice.
Aside from the questionable value of nets for players still learning the game, we have just one hour together each week, and time spent padding up and taking pads off cuts in to playing time.
The first two plans were written up retrospectively. In both instances, I worked around a session theme, and used activities “from the playbook”
Batting — hitting straight
Hitting the ball straight back past the bowler/striking the ball with a vertical bat.
- Whole-“discuss”-Whole† (40 mins)
- Game — super-over (15 mins)
Whole — “Lord’s game” straight hit
- cooperative feed (from coach);
- “exclusion zone” 5m either side of straight hit with no fielders in the zone until the ball is hit;
- scoring zone 10m either side of straight — no runs for strokes outside the scoring zone.
Game — super-over, players to bowl in rotation; 360° scoring zone; straight-hit bonus zone:
- to challenge fielding team to cover more space;
- also to allow batters to score off deliveries that cannot be hit back with a straight bat!
† Variant on Whole-Part-Whole, where the technical component (“Part”) is replaced by a question-and-answer.
At this stage in their development, the players (should) know the answers to “why would you want to hit a half volley into the space beyond the bowler?” and “what’s the best way to hit a half volley past the bowler?”, so the Q&A is really just to reinforce existing knowledge.
With younger or less experienced players, we might run a more traditional whole-part-whole, with a “part” practice activity, hitting bobble feeds, but with this group I want them to spend as much time as possible deploying skills-in-context — scoring runs in a competitive situation.
Bowling — energy towards the target
Energy towards target; bowling straight (always!).
- Warm-up/restricted bowling (20 mins)
- Bowling challenge — Knock ‘em down (20 mins)
- Game — Super over (15 mins)
Warm-up — restricted bowling
- “bowling” knee grounded, non-bowling knee raised and forward (i.e. right knee grounded for RH bowler, left knee raised & advanced)
- bowling knee raised and forward, non-bowling knee grounded bowling, from one knee & from standing start/one pace only
- “Long bowl” — no run-up, bowl across hall (4 lanes if available) or into wall.
Knock ‘em down — bowling with hard ball. If we had 3 wicket keepers, I’d have had them keep, but instead the coaches kept, with catching mitts.
Super-over — indoor rules (1 run for hitting side or back net, boundaries for hitting the net behind the bowler without first hitting side net).
The restricted bowling was intended as a challenge to what the players already knew about bowling.
- “Can you follow-through with back knee down?” “How about with front knee down, back knee raised?”
- “Can you generate energy from a standing start?” “What does it feel like?/“what do you have to do?”
Emphasise the role of shoulder rotation (esp. when front knee raised) and follow-through after release (back knee forward & raised).
We played Super over in 2-net wide “corridors” to reinforce the straight hitting from the previous week — it was easy enough to get singles by hitting the side nets, but the ball quickly rebounds to a fielder so additional runs are difficult to score. Hence, much greater scoring opportunities for straight hitting.