It’s too easy..

Interesting conversation with a parent after one of my sessions last week.

We had been working on hitting front foot drives, and had finished with a game, with bobble feeds from the coach – making it “too easy” for the players to hit the ball.

As I explained to the parent, just about the only way for a batter to strike a low bouncing (almost rolling) delivery back towards the feeder is with a vertical bat – the feed forced the batsmen to approximate the front foot drive, rather than just hitting the ball anyhow.

A perfectly reasonable question…I probably should make a point of explaining some of the “madness” to the parents, in future.

Coachability – is it a thing?

Should we seek, or create, cricketers who are “coachable”? Can we even agree what we mean by “coachable”?

I came across a fascinating article quoting  Brittney Reese, multiple World and Olympic Champion in the long jump, on the process of becoming a champion.

A story from the 2013 World Championships was especially interesting.  Reese, at that time the reigning World Champion, had only just managed to qualify for the final.

“…my coach told me to ‘stop acting like a girl, and just jump’.

That night I went back, looked at the film and tried to figure out where I was going wrong.”

This was presented as evidence of Reese’s “coachability”, but I’m not sure this really demonstrates “coachability”, not as I understand the term, at least. Continue reading Coachability – is it a thing?

Making sense of games with Principles of Play

I have posted previously on my conversion to games-based learning, and on the challenges of designing games that are both “representative” (of the real game, and that therefore require the players to develop transferable cricket skills) but at the same time not so constrained and artificial as to no longer be fun to play (the “game” element is important, because we want the players are to come back to it again and again).

Over the summer I finished reading the best book I have ever read on non-linear pedagogy (“Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition – an Introduction“, Jia Yi Chow, Keith Davids, Chris Button and Ian Renshaw, 2015;  ).

OK, this is probably the only book on non-linear pedagogy I ever expect to read, and it gets a bit dry in places, but it describes the theoretical basis of representative games, and Renshaw is very good on games for cricket training.

I was still struggling with creating truly representative games, however, until I came across the concept of Principles of Play.

Principles of Play, for any sport, can be defined as those fundamental strategies used to effectively adapt to any tactical situation during a game.

More simply – the actions taken by the winning team.

For cricket, the Principles of Play might be defined as follows:

  • Batting:
    • score runs
    • don’t get out
  • Bowling & Fielding:
    • take wickets
    • deny the batsman run scoring opportunities

It really is that simple…except, of course, that the balance between the two, not always mutually compatible, objectives, whether batting or fielding, is infinitely nuanced by the match format, the current state of the game, playing conditions (both match regulations and climatic), opposition strengths & weaknesses etc., etc.

But having identified the non-negotiable principles, game selection becomes easier.  Does your game challenge the players to display appropriate behaviours to deliver on the Principles?

No? Then look for another!

Yes? Then you have found your game.

Continue reading Making sense of games with Principles of Play